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When the earth moves again

‘Moses, Moses the Red Sea closes over you when you least expect it to.’

Enigmatic words penned by Jefferson Airplane, the celebrated US West Coast late 1960’s psychedelic band. They come from a song entitled ‘When the earth moves again’ which includes references to Hannibal crossing the Alps and finding no one at home in Rome, along with the religion of ancient Egyptian kings. A fascinating collation of images, no doubt helped along by generous helpings of LSD.

Song lyrics often speak to us in unexpected ways. Sometimes a few words from a hymn will catch your throat as you sing at a wedding or funeral. You may have to work harder with modern song writers and maybe know something of what’s happening for them at the time of writing before you can appreciate their meaning. Our safeguarding training emphasises how words and symbols in our worship can evoke strong memories and so there is arguably and equally some responsibility on worship leaders to know what’s happened or is still happening for people in the congregation before choosing a particular hymn or song.

However it may be difficult to be always sensitive about the words we sing and troubling references may be hidden deep down in an individual’s inner world. That moment when you are unexpectedly overcome with whatever emotion, may well be the first time that the strong feelings have surfaced.

So the reference to Moses? I think it’s a reminder that whenever things seem to be going well, the sea opening up to let the Israelite's pass, or the Egyptian armies threatened by their own deluge, there is always the capacity for the unexpected to happen. It wasn’t part of the plan. Your defences are up and you think you are safe. It can change your world in an instant as the earth moves again. Keep a watch out for the earthquake as you sing.

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