Feb 5 2021

She’ll Be Comin Round the Mountain

We are continuing to release a new recording on the first friday of the month.  This month’s song is‘She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain’ and you can hear it wherever you get music, through the link in our bio, or by copy and pasting https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/ordinarytime/shell-be-comin-round-the-mountain.

We would love to hear what you think and welcome you to pass the song along to any who might enjoy it.  Below are some words on the song from Ben:

‘She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain’ is an old American folk song with an interesting history. As with many old folk songs, the question of authorship is murky. The familiar children’s version that most people know today is the end result of a long evolutionary process. 

It is widely agreed that ‘She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain’ originated with the early African-American spiritual ‘When the Chariot Comes’ which was published in William Eleazar Barton’s 1899 songbook “Old Plantation Hymns.” This song is about the second coming of Christ who the lyrics depict as riding a chariot. The word ‘she’ refers to the chariot itself. Because of its origins in the slave community and the lack of biblical passages depicting Jesus in a chariot, some have conjectured that ‘When the Chariot Comes’ contained a hidden reference to the underground railroad. Certainly many other negro spirituals combined the longing for the freedom of heaven with the coded message of intent to escape to freedom in this life. Perhaps ‘When the Chariot Comes’ is one of these songs. 

Because of the adaptable nature of the music and words, the song began to change in the early 20th century to suit people in ‘non-religious’ contexts. It became a song sung by railroad workers in which ‘she’ was a locomotive, and by coal miners hoping for deliverance from the miner’s labor union. In 1927 Carl Sandburg published what had already become a popular song in his book ‘The American Songbag.’ Since then, many people have recorded ‘She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain.’ It has been performed on many stages and around many campfires, and is a good example of the many cultural strands that join together to form American folk music. 

I confess that as a child, I pictured an old woman careening around a mountain ridge in a horse drawn carriage, her hands overflowing with chicken dumplings. How did she keep hold of the reins? I don’t know. But who could resist going out to meet her? 

Ben Keyes for Ordinary Time

Dec 12 2020

This Little Light Of Mine

Ordinary Time recorded “This Little Light of Mine” when we were together in Vancouver a few years ago (click here to listen). We didn’t mean to hang onto the recording in order to release it at the end of one of the most challenging and darkest years in our collective memory, but here we are!

The origins of the song aren’t clear. It was a popular children’s song in the United States in the early decades of the 1900’s. In the 1950’s and 1960’s it became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement – a song that united protesters as they marched and stood together against the injustice of legislated racism. A song of hope and also of defiance. In the act of singing, they could proclaim together that no matter what injustice or opposition they faced, they would take a stand and let their light shine for goodness, for justice, for hope. Many said that songs like “This Little Light of Mine” gave them courage in intense and scary situations. It was sung in Charlottesville, Virginia at a protest in 2018 – still bringing unity and shoring up courage.

It is Ordinary Time’s privilege to release our several-year-old cover of this song in 2020, a year that has highlighted the racial divides and systemic injustice that still cast a dark shadow over us (speaking from my view in the United States right now). There is still so much work to do; there is still so much hurt. With this little recording we honor the thousands who have sung it as they stood for justice. May we all let our lights shine, even in the darkest days, and even when it is hard and costly to do so.

Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount (find it in Matthew 5) that we are to let our lights shine before the world, that the world may see our good deeds and give God glory. We have light to shine because God himself came into our dark, messy, broken world. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Not even in 2020.

In this season of Advent we celebrate that the Light has come—and we wait and long together for Jesus the Light of the world to come again. We can lean into the pain of this world and lament it together; we can step out boldly into the world’s brokenness and let our own lights shine because we believe that one day the Light will fully banish all darkness. No more pain. No more injustice. No more tears, or sickness, or death. “And they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will be their light.” (Revelation 22:5)

Come Lord Jesus!

Jill, for Ordinary Time

Dec 9 2020

Hard Times

Some years ago—when Ben, Jill, and I met up in Vancouver to perform some concerts—we began what has turned out to be a years-long project of recording a few covers. The project began, as Ordinary Time projects often do, with me (Peter) trying to squeeze as much music as I could out of our brief time together. So far we have recorded 5 songs in total. The first efforts (and best recorded bits) were done at the Space Studios in Vancouver with Jordaniel Benett manning the microphones. The rest of the audio was recorded in various rooms in homes and hotel rooms, using whatever gear I brought along with me.

Hard Times, the first song we are releasing from the group, (click here to listen) is an old American Folk tune (1858) written by Stephen Foster in. It has been covered many, many times since then by all manner of singers. This is due to the fact that It is, in my estimation, one of the simplest and most beautiful folk-hymns ever written. It speaks of the human condition and our longing for hope. It laments the forces that afflict the least fortunate of us, reminding us that even if we find ourselves among the fortunate, there are those who suffer nearby. Part of the genius of the song is that it does not judge—it does not direct us to help those who are suffering—yet if we have ears, we can hear.

While we recorded this song some time ago, and it felt appropriate then given the state of the world, it feels even more timely now. As we all navigate our way in this world it is a good reminder to give thought to those who are less fortunate than we are. This song is an invitation to empathize with those who suffer, and to also take the steps to seek how we can help those “frail forms fainting at the door”. Listening to this song it is hard not to consider how we might seek to serve—and even love—our neighbor on this journey that we are all on.

Peter, for Ordinary Time
13 November 2020

Feb 23 2010


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