The gauntlet was thrown down some weeks ago when the music director at our church commented that there weren't many decent advent songs, so we keep dragging out old staples. So of course, I had to write one. The problem is, I do words, not music, so I asked The Man to pitch in once I had the lyrics nailed.
Now Richard has written a number of songs in the past, when we were part of an alternative worship community back in the nineties (for those of you in your twenties, that's what we used to call emerging church; for those of you in your teens, that's what we used to call church). Most of these had melodies that gained the description 'folky dirge' within our little gang. They weren't known for being jolly, or even particularly purposeful - it became difficult to know when they had finally finished, as they tended to drift off into some slightly mournful or loopy chill-out ambient track, usually 'Mountain Goat'. But they served our purpose well (we didn't believe that jolliness was next to Godliness) and were a nice accessory to our black lyra and Celtic Cross pendants (this was the nineties). One even got picked up by Greenbelt and used in the main communion service - Richard still gets tiny dribbles of money coming in from royalties, about enough to keep him in plectrums.
So I suppose it was inevitable that the tune he (assisted by Jordan) came up with was in a minor key and a tad more mournful than I had imagined. It was also quite unpredictable; this I realise can be a really good thing, lets face it most church music is painfully predictable. However, a congregation has to be able to learn it. I like their tune; I'm just not sure it fits the words.
I then went away and wrote an alternative (I say wrote; I sang it at them). It's a lot brighter, lifting, jolly even. It is however rather like a number of other songs. I quite like it, but I wouldn't get excited over it. Richard thinks it a bit boring. Jordan isn't speaking to me (about this, anyway).
So now Richard is thinking we could use my verse (fits the words better, in all ways) with his chorus (more musically interesting) and possibly my bridge (even Jordan admits their version was unteachable to a congregation). I'm thinking: why stop there? Let's get each person in the music group to make up a line! Or even, each person in the congregation to sing a note of their own choosing! (Sometimes I'm not sure this isn't how things work already, particularly with some of the more archaic hymns).
We need to finalise things rapidly - Richard is leading worship on the second Sunday in advent in 10 days time, which is really the last chance to introduce it. Besides which, Richard and I are now at a stand off that could see us singing different tunes in the same service (I think he'd win, what with having a microphone and all). Perhaps we could scrap the tunes altogether and find a well-known melody that fits. The Road to Amarillo seems to work...