“Give Through Devotion”October 20, 2010 at 7:53 pm
If I’m not mistaken, this is the only time we ever did this song as a group. I play it every year at school for my students and I have done it solo at some coffeehouses. This version probably suffers from being a trifle fast perhaps (and sounding like the first try it was right after being written). But I think it’s worth posting since there are no other versions out there! I tried to prime the crowd to join in on the final part here and I think this song could be a really good concert song through devices like that.
This was a song I wrote after I had started teaching when the group had stopped playing regularly. It was my first job as I completed my Masters at Assumption. Then as now I was teaching Freshmen on personal growth, giftedness and the meaning of love. Together with my mentor, Meg Curran, I developed a lecture which I chose to call the “Feelings Lecture”. This lecture tries to explain for the students the role ‘feelings’ plays in the normal moral life using C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves. The new kind of unconditional, sacrificial love Christians saw among themselves was so novel in the pagan world they had to come up with their own name, “agape”. The thing about this love was that, unlike eros or philia, it was not a feeling but a moral action. Marriage Encounter says ‘love is not a feeling, it is a decision’, and this is what they mean. A good word to describe this kind of love is “DEVOTION”. The lecture strives to encourage the kids to build their conscience and act on principle not feelings. “Devotion” is the key to happiness in life!
The actual impetus for the song involved this one particular kid. Some of the adults were talking about him and they said something which in effect was giving up on the kid, “he’s never going to be the same’. Well, my feeling is that God never gives up on so-called “failures”; he never gives up on any of us.
I do a little exercise where I describe how some famous person could be seen as a “failure”, until you hear the name, and you realize they refused to accept just being a failure. I also tell the story of St. Mary of Egypt who started as a Christian-hating prostitute who specialized in seducing clergy in order to discredit the group she hated so much. One day in Jerusalem, she decided to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre itself to seduce within that holiest of churches. An unseen wall [like they had in Star Trek!] prevented her and she had to face her degradation and tailspin into hate and lust head on. She decided to go to the desert and find the truth. Eventually, she became so wise and holy that Emperors and Popes came to ask her advice.
This kid at my first school, as I recall, was helped a lot by a priest friend of his and really seemed to be trying to get on the right path. As you listen to the song you can hear little scraps that allude to this kind of situation. The whole idea sprang out of the overheard comment featured in the first verse. If we can get enough kids to believe and love strongly, with “devotion” as advised by this song, I really DO think “the world will never be the same”!