Songs for the Soul

Ivor Moody, Rejoice (2017)

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The book examines, from a Christian perspective, the thoughts and ideas which the author has seen in six classic and iconic songs, written between 1964 and 1986. Those readers of a certain age will remember the original recordings, although some of the cover versions are perhaps better known and more loved.

Revd Canon Ivor Moody, the Vice Dean and Canon Pastor of Chelmsford Cathedral, I suspect is of that certain age and the songs he has examined are among his favourites. They include Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood (recognising truth), True Colours (finding strength), Message in a Bottle (making intercession), Blowin’ in the Wind (encountering reconciliation), The Sounds of Silence (discovering power), and Let it Be (discerning direction).

Whether you like the songs or not, the messages, as discerned by Ivor, will resonate with all who enjoy popular music, and will provide a talking point with young and old alike. As much as I have tried, while writing this review, it is proving very difficult to concentrate – as the words and music of Don’t Let Me be Misunderstood are persistently coming to the fore! When reading the book be very careful of bouts of nostalgia and memories of long ago (misspent?) youth!

All of the songs are chosen for the sentiments which can be found in the lyrics. The ideas are not achieved by examining and analysing each word and phrase, but by using the lyrics to identify areas of concern for Christians, for example Message in a Bottle uses this wonderful song to show that a message in a bottle is both an act of desperation and a gesture of hope, that springs from loneliness. It raises the very interesting point that God might be lonely, because he gave up his Son. Ivor uses George Herbert’s poem Love to illustrate that the lonely can enjoy the love which may be found in the embrace of Holy Communion, which is full of hope.

Each of the songs is able to produce a fuller meaning of relevance to all readers. Through the six songs we are led through topics such as the watching presence of a mother, the power of silence, being true to oneself, reconciliation and misunderstanding and being misunderstood.

The book wonderfully provides, for preachers, many potential topics for sermons, whether using any of the songs or other well-known, favourite pop songs. It is a good excuse to go into the attic and retrieve the long-forgotten but cherished vinyl singles to illustrate a different sort of sermon! Well worth reading!

Reviewed by Alan Rashleigh