Easter, Day 7

LOOK: Freedom by Zenos Frudakis

Frudakis, Zenos_Freedom
Zenos Frudakis (American, 1951–), Freedom, 2001. Bronze, 8 × 20 ft. 16th and Vine Streets, Philadelphia.

LISTEN: “We Will Rise Again” by Ben Keyes, on Were You There? Are You Here? (2007)

Hallelujah, we will rise again
Angels rolled the stone away
The Lord has raised his Son
Victory is won
He’s gonna call us from the grave

I want to walk in your kingdom
(Give me back my feet!)
I want to walk in your kingdom
(Roll that stone away from me!)
I want to clap my hands in glory
(Give me back my hands!)
I want to clap my hands in glory
(Roll that stone away from me!)

Refrain

I want to walk in your kingdom
(Give me back my feet!)
I want to walk in your kingdom
(Roll that stone away from me!)
I want to stomp my feet in glory
(Give me back my feet!)
I want to stomp my feet in glory
(Roll that stone away from me!)

Refrain

I want to sing in your kingdom
(Give me back my throat!)
I want to sing in your kingdom
(Roll that stone away from me!)
I want to shout in glory
(Give me back my throat!)
I want to shout out in glory
(Roll that stone away from me!)

Refrain ×2

This gospel song by Ben Keyes is sung from the perspective of the faithful departed—those siblings in Christ who have passed on but who are awaiting their own bodily resurrection on the last day. Although in this world our bodies decay and we return to dust, one day we will be reconstituted and raised, and we will join with saints from all over the globe in praise of Christ our Savior in the new heavens and the new earth. In Keyes’s song, the deceased anticipate that joyful reuniting of body and soul, and the eternal ingathering of the universal church. They appeal to God to give them back their vocal cords so that they can sing and shout; their feet, so they can move about and dance; their hands, so they can clap and serve.

Ben Keyes is the codirector, with his wife Nickaela Fiore-Keyes, of the Southborough L’Abri branch in Massachusetts. Founded by Edith and Francis Schaeffer, L’Abri (French for “shelter”) is an international network of communities that integrate study and discussion about God and life with practical community work. These “shelters” house both short-term guests and long-term residents. They are not a retreat, a commune, or a seminary, but they incorporate elements of all three.

Keyes grew up at the Southborough L’Abri and from an early age has loved to play music. When he was in high school his family joined an African American church and he became involved in the music ministry, learning how to play gospel piano and bass guitar. He went on to study ethnomusicology at Brown University, exploring the beauties of old-time music, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and traditional Irish music.

From 2005 to 2007 Keyes studied theology and the arts at Regent College in Vancouver, where he earned a master’s degree. He directed a large gospel choir as part of his final thesis project—which you can get a taste of from his excellent album Were You There? Are You Here?, whose finale is “We Will Rise Again.” All the songs are by Keyes, and the choir is made up of grad students from Regent and the University of British Columbia.

At Regent Keyes met Peter La Grand and Jill McFadden, fellow classmates, and the three of them formed Ordinary Time, a folk acoustic trio rooted in the Christian tradition. They sing both original songs and arrangements of old hymns and have five full-length albums to date—with another coming out in 2023! Here they are singing Keyes’s “We Will Rise Again” from their remote locations (Southborough, Vancouver, Baltimore) in 2020, using the Acapella app:  

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On a related note: In 2019 I wrote a set of commentaries on the general resurrection for the Visual Commentary on Scripture, using an ancient sarcophagus, a medieval manuscript illumination, and a modern painting to dialogue with 1 Corinthians 15:35–58. I shared some of the shortlisted images here.

2 thoughts on “Easter, Day 7

  1. Thanks for sharing this. So unusual to have a resurrection song from the point of view of those who have already passed on and are awaiting their new bodies. Also, the Freedom sculpture is breathtaking.

    Like

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