HOPE? Maybe just PRAYING FOR TIME

Hope 5

Last year I ushered in the new year with Hope for a New Year, featuring the cathartic finale “Hope” of my oratorio The Song of Job 9:11.  A song of phoenix like rising from the ashes, a gently defiant assertion of faith in good overcoming the worst, culminating in joyous vocalese.  Here the video of the 10th anniversary concert (I’ll repost an audio track with lyrics at the bottom of this post). :

This year, well, let’s face it 2016 has been a shit storm, and 2017 we start living with the consequences of the manure pile up.

On top of the national and global veer towards insanity we have endured a series of unexpected, untimely high profile deaths.  George Michael’s was the first dreadful “Christmas Surprise”.  And his song of social despair “Praying for Time” has consequently become the theme song of the transition into this not necessarily happy new year.

The song is about 27 years old, and when I heard it at the time I didn’t see why the ills the lyrics are lamenting should be any more pressing at that particular time.  Today however some of the lines hit the ills and the mood of the nation, the world, with greater particularity:

This is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

Almost reads like how many pundits described certain groups of voters this year…

Still, it’s the dark mood of the song, and it’s final message countering hope with the admonishment that maybe hope must wait, praying for time is all we can muster for now, that sadly truly resonates for me.  Almost as a rebuke to last year’s posting of “Hope”…

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

When I first heard this song, I thought the bleak central message seemed unwarrented at that particular time in history compared to darker days in the past, including the then recent past I was old enough to remember.  Today I feel myself shamefully drawn to the message.  It feels too true for the here and now and days to come.  Yet I shouldn’t want it to be.

But perhaps by this year’s end, we will feel ourselves having risen phoenix like from the ashes with brighter prospects actually visibly ahead.  And the defiantly joyous conclusion of “Hope” will feel like something to be wholeheartedly believed again.

Praying for Time – George Michael

These are the days of the open hand
They will not be the last
Look around now
These are the days of the beggars and the choosersThis is the year of the hungry man
Whose place is in the past
Hand in hand with ignorance
And legitimate excuses

The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we’ll take our chances
Because god’s stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all god’s children
Crept out the back door

And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time

These are the days of the empty hand
Oh you hold on to what you can
And charity is a coat you wear twice a year

This is the year of the guilty man
Your television takes a stand
And you find that what was over there is over here

So you scream from behind your door
Say “what’s mine is mine and not yours”
I may have too much but I’ll take my chances
Because god’s stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you

That he can’t come back
Because he has no children to come back for

It’s hard to love there’s so much to hate
Hanging on to hope when there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it’s much too late
So maybe we should all be praying for time

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Hope – from The Song of Job 9:11 – Danny Ashkenasi

 

JOB:    I believe in the good of mankind

I believe in the end truth prevails

            It resides in our hearts and our minds

            Should we seek it we’d find love unveiled

 

            I have heard of a light strange and strong

            It embraces the seas and the skies

            Touching all, high or low, right or wrong

            And in time it may blaze in my eyes

 

WOMEN:       ah… (musical bridge)

 

JOB & TENOR :        I believe there will always be hope

TWO WOMEN :         – Like a light hid behind angry skies

JOB & T :       I believe there will always be pain

TWO WOMEN:                     – There’s a song in the saddest of cries

JOB & T :       Though at times I may struggle to cope

TWO WOMEN:                     – Though the world is a perilous place

JOB & T :       I believe life is never in vain

TWO WOMEN:                     – Life endows us with moments of grace

 

JOB & T :       I have stared at the visage of dread

TWO WOMEN:                     – There is more than just evil and good

JOB & T :       And I fear what a soul has to face

TWO WOMEN:                     – So much more than can be understood

JOB & T :       Yet for all of the living and dead

TWO WOMEN:                     – For the world is an island at night

JOB & T :       I believe there’s a loving embrace

TWO WOMEN:                     – That’s enveloped in deep endless light

 

            (vocalese)

 

ENSEMBLE:  I believe in the good of mankind

I believe there will always be hope

           I believe in the end truth prevails

                                                – I believe there will always be pain

            It resides in our hearts and our minds

                                                – Though at times I may struggle to cope

            Should we seek it we’d find love unveiled

                                                – I believe life is never in vain

 

            I have heard of a light strange and strong

                                                – I have stared at the visage of dread

            It embraces the seas and the skies

                                                – And I fear what a soul has to face

            Touching all, high or low, right or wrong

                                                – Yet for all of the living and dead

            And in time it may blaze in my eyes      

                                                – I believe there’s a loving embrace

 

(vocalese)

 

 

 

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 30 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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