Love is the Way featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album Love is the Way recorded and produced by Bob Ross
Nigeria is a country close to my heart as Mustard Seed Songs have been fund raising to construct a church – the Risen Christ Central Chapel in Cross River Stage, Southern Nigeria.
In Cross River State Christians are relatively safe but not so further north where Christians can be brutally attacked by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram which is said to be fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state. In addition, according to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index, 1,700 violent deaths have been attributed to Fulani herdsmen in attacks carried out between January and September 2018.
So it is in this horrific context that I was overjoyed to read this story in “Barnabas Aid” which is a publication for Barnabas Fund; a charity which supports the persecuted church.
When Boko Haran militants attached a group of 500 Nigerian Christians converts from Islam 76 Christians were captured. Four male leaders amongst the 76 were asked to return to Islam or be shot. They refused and were killed. Then their four widows were asked to return to Islam or their children would be executed. While the women were agonising, their children ran in saying that Jesus had appeared and told them all would be well. Then Jesus appeared to the whole group of 72 telling them not to fear, not to renounce Him and He would protect them. The following day the militants lined up the children and when their mothers refused to deny Christ took aim. But before any child was shot the gunmen started grabbing at their own heads screaming “Snakes!” and fleeing from the scene. Some dropped dead. A Christian man picked up the gun of a dead militant but a little girl stopped him from using the weapon saying “You don’t need to do that. Can’t you see the men in white fighting for us?” Praise God for this miraculous intervention and pray that the surviving militants will turn to Christ.
“Peace Be With You”- “Put Your Finger Here”- “You Are My Lord” featuring
the Original Cast from Risen! The Musical recorded and produced by Joffy James
So yesterday Joffy and I spent the day recording the final two vocal pieces for the sequel to Risen! The Musical – Acts The Musical – Part One “Fire.” Peter was performed by Paul Clements who sang the part of Judas in the Original Cast recording of Risen! Paul also runs Visionworks who are holding auditions on Wednesday May 15th for their next production which is “The Lion The Witch and the Wardroom.” If you are interested in auditioning then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The part of John was performed by James Townend who sang the part of Thomas in the Original Cast recording of Risen! When I see James and hear his amazing voice I am always reminded of the story of how he got to play the role of Thomas. Below is an extract from the blog post of 2014
Ever year at Crofton Mr Mill would organise a Charities Week and one of the fund raising events was an “Unplugged Karaoke.” I was sitting in the audience next to Lucy Stimpson-Maynard when James Townend came on and sang “Walking in Memphis.” It was fantastic and at the end Lucy and I instantly rose as one to give James a standing ovation as did the rest of the audience.
When it came to putting together a Mustard Seed Concert programme to support two people that were to work for Tearfund I thought it would be a great idea if James sang – especially as one of the people we were supporting was James’ sister Clare. I chose a song I had made up that I thought would suit his voice “You are my Rock.” Anyway to cut a long story short it was just not happening for James- however right at the last minute I had the idea of asking him to sing “Walking in Memphis” instead – when he did it sounded great so I then suggested he just sing “ You are my Rock” in the same way. James was reluctant as he was “putting on a voice” to sing “Memphis” and he thought that it would be dishonest if he did the same for “You are my Rock.” I assured him that this was not the case and he ended up giving a great performance.
James would then have been 16 then and although I stayed in touch with his family who went to Holy Rood Church I lost contact with James himself. However I was discussing our musical “Risen!” with my dear friend Dr Graham Giles and the fact that we needed some singers for a forthcoming production. Unbeknown to me Graham had recently been chatting to James who had just seen the film version of Les Miserables and so felt inspired to get involved with a musical himself. When Graham told me this my mind went back some 12 years to when James sang” Walking in Memphis” and so James and I met at Holy Rood church and he sang me the part of Cleopas from Risen! which I had earmarked for him. However he told me that he had also practiced another song from Risen! – one sung by the disciple Thomas. I thought that I might as well hear it and when I did I was speechless – it was so emotional and powerful. he just had to have the part!
So for James to now be able to sing the role of John for our new musical is simply brilliant!
Quote of the week
When we focus on what we believe we divide when we focus on WHO we believe we unite
I Know Its Not Yet The Start Of The Day featuring The Original Cast from Risen! The Musical recorded and produced by Joffy Girling
The first production of Risen! took place at Holy Rood Church, Stubbington on Easter Sunday 2012. There were further Risen! performances at Holy Rood on the Easter Sundays of 2013 and 2014. Then in March 2015 the Risen! CD, featuring the Original Cast, was released and in May of the same year the first professional stage production featuring the London Touring Cast took place in Coventry. This was followed by another London Touring Cast production in November at the recently re opened New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. In April 2016, again at the New Theatre Royal and again featuring the London Touring Cast Risen! The Musical was filmed by Global Fire Creative. Since then Risen! has been viewed countless times on You Tube and in broadcasts from Revelation TV in the UK and from Alfa- Omega TV and Credo TV in Romania.
It is truly wonderful to know that many, many people have been blessed by Risen! I was overjoyed when I received a letter this week from a lady living in Central France who wrote:
First of all I want to congratulate you on a truly inspiring programme I watched over Easter on Revelation TV.
It was so fantastic to see the Gospel delivered in such a way that didn’t stop at Christ’s death, with fantastic singers and a really simplistic but powerful set. My daughter missed the presentation but watched it on YouTube last night, phoning me at the end in tears, as both my husband and I were after the broadcast.
Quote of the week
The world bases importance on the number of people serving you but God is much more interested in the number of people you are serving
“Against Jesus- One Day A Crown” featuring the Original Cast recorded and produced by Joffy Girling
First I just wanted to say thank you to Revelation TV who continue to broadcast Risen! The Musical. The next showing is on Saturday April 20th at 2.00 pm. Risen! is also available with subtitles in English, Mandarin, Spanish and Romanian – just visit www.risenthemusical.com
Today is Maundy Thursday but why Maundy? Wikipedia says:
Maundy is the name of the Christian rite of footwashing, which traditionally occurs during Maundy Thursday church services. Most scholars agree that the English word maundy is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum (also the origin of the English word “mandate”), the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”) This statement by Jesus is from the Gospel ofJohn 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.
Others theorize that the English name “Maundy Thursday” arose from “maundsor baskets” or “maundy purses” of alms which the King of England distributed to certain poor at Whitehall before attending Mass on that day. Thus, “maund” is connected to the Latin mendicare, and French mendier, to beg. A source from the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod likewise states that, if the name was derived from the Latin mandatum, we would call the day Mandy Thursday, or Mandate Thursday, or even Mandatum Thursday; and that the term “Maundy” comes in fact from the Latin mendicare, Old French mendier, and English maund, which as a verb means to beg and as a noun refers to a small basket held out by maunders as they maunded.
And why is Easter not a fixed date as is Christmas? The explanation below comes from The Economist
Unlike other Christian holidays, Easter can move around a lot from one year to the next, its date sometimes varying by more than a month. It falls between March 22nd and April 25th for the Western church, and between April 4th and May 8th for the Eastern church. Why does Easter move around so much?
According to the Bible, Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples on the night of the Jewish festival of Passover, died the next day (Good Friday) and rose again on the third day (the following Sunday). The beginning of Passover is determined by the first full moon after the vernal equinox, which can occur on any day of the week. To ensure that Easter occurs on a Sunday, the Council of Nicaea therefore ruled in 325AD that Easter would be celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. But there’s a twist: if the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Passover begins on a Sunday, so Easter is then delayed by a week to ensure that it still occurs after Passover. To confuse matters further, the council fixed the date of the vernal equinox at March 21st, the date on which it occurred in 325AD (though it now occurs on March 20th), and introduced a set of tables to define when the full moon occurs that do not quite align with the actual astronomical full moon (which means that, in practice, Easter can actually occur before Passover).
The earliest possible date for Easter occurs when the notional full moon falls on March 21st itself, in a year in which March 21st falls on a Saturday. Easter is then celebrated on Sunday March 22nd, a rare event that last happened in 1818 and will next take place in 2285. The latest possible date for Easter occurs when there is a full moon on March 20th, so that the first full moon after March 21st falls a lunar month or 29 days later, on April 18th. If April 18th falls on a Sunday, then the special Sunday rule applies, and Easter is celebrated the following Sunday, or April 25th. This last happened in 1943, and will next happen in 2038. There is therefore a 35-day window in which Easter can fall, depending on the timing of the full moon relative to March 21st.
Eastern Christianity applies the same basic rule but uses the older Julian calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, giving a different range of possible dates.
Quote of the week
Difficulties cause us to grow just as trees expand their roots during a storm
Bathe Me In Your Light featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album I Look Up To The Heavens recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson
Our gorgeous Labrador “Genna” is now 8 months old. My gorgeous wife Caroline had today’s featured video of Genna recorded in order to show her brother and sister in law, who now have a lovely 3 month old Lab called Bella.
Genna loves “training” with Caroline and it really is wonderful to see the increased bond between the two that comes from them spending time together. The “training” is of course in no way a means by which Caroline tries to master or dominate Genna – letting her know whose Boss. No, Caroline knows that a lot of the commands she teaches Genna such as “wait” and “leave” will potentially keep Genna free from harm. Genna may not realise that something she thinks will taste nice could in fact be poisonous or that a nasty car could hit her if she does not wait but rushes at something of interest on the other side of the road. Furthermore Genna loves being stimulated by learning new things and she loves pleasing Caroline. In turn Caroline loves spending time with Genna, seeing her become more obedient and more capable and as a result of the increased bonding their love for each other grows.
As I watched the two of them so obviously enjoying the “training” and the subsequent bonding I could not help but think that here was a bit of an analogy with God and our relationship with Him. Now of course I do not want to be in any way blasphemous and make comparisons which are in appropriate, however God does teach, guide and lead us to follow His commands and His ways – we are dependent on Him for everything – He does discipline us for our own good- He does know what is best for us – does tell us when to wait, when to come and when to leave. By responding to His voice we draw closer to Him, we bond with Him more and our love for Him grows and grows..
Sometimes the simplest things in creation can teach us so much.
Quote of the week:
Jesus had to be man in order to die but God in order to save.
Fresh off the press- Risen! The Musical with subtitles in English!
This has only been available for a few hours so readers of this blog should be the first to have the opportunity to view!
My good friend Alex-Emanuel Şerban who works for Credo TV in Romania had already created subtitles for Risen! The Musical in Mandarin, Spanish and Romanian. They can be viewed together with the original English version, without subtitles via www.risenthemusical.com.
Alex created the subtitles in English because a number of people suggested that it could help those who are hard of hearing, those for whom English is not their first language and those who simply find it easier with subtitles to follow the storyline and appreciate the lyrics.
So many thanks Alex for all your hard work.
And friends please have a listen – I do hope that you enjoy it.
The London Touring Cast after recording Acts The Musical – Part One “Fire”
We’ve been travelling – Give Us Your Heart Lord featuring the Original Cast from the album Risen!The Musical recorded and produced by Joffy Girling
First and most important – every good wish to our webmaster PJ for a speedy recovery – he will be posting this blog from his hospital bed. Get well soon my friend!
Had a great time in Ealing last weekend. I had booked an Airbnb with a fantastic host called Alex – he had converted his loft into a brilliant apartment with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and a great living space. So from Friday to Sunday lunchtime Joffy recorded a stream of alumni from the London College of Music -members of the London Touring Cast who performed Risen! The Musical so wonderfully well; the New Theatre Royal performance having been filmed and now available on You Tube with subtitles in Mandarin, Spanish and Romanian- check out please www.risenthemusical.com
We were recording Mustard Seed Songs’ latest project which is a musical based on the Acts of the Apostles and that has a working title of Acts- The Musical Part One “Fire,”
So a big thank you to Benny, Casey, David, Katie, Johnny, Max, Andrew and Jamie who all did such great jobs recording the parts of Simon the Sorcerer, Stephen the first martyr, Saul/Paul, Philip the Evangelist, the Ethiopian Eunuch and the crippled man who was healed at the Temple gate called “Beautiful.” In addition to solo pieces they also sang ensemble parts – which sound awesome.
Joffy is working on the edit right now. When that is complete the next stage will be to record the lead role of Peter which is being performed by Paul Clements (Judas from the Risen! The Musical CD.) We also desperately hope and pray that James Townend (Thomas from Risen! The Musical CD) will recover from a nasty illness and so will be able to record the part of the disciple John. .
We will then have the complete show recorded with piano accompaniment for people to have a listen and then, depending on the response, we will decide whether or not to go for a full orchestrated accompaniment.
I Sing This Song Of Love For You featuring Lucy Stimpson – Maynard from the album ” I Look Up To The Heavens” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson
So on Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of Sarah and Richard at Holy Rood church. Sarah and Richard had attended an Alpha course https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_course that I had helped with.
Understandably there were many guests there that I did know including a couple right in front of me with their lovely young daughter. I noticed that the young woman was singing along to all the worship songs and so at a convenient moment I asked her how she knew them. She told me her name was Charlotte and that she had been a Christian for two years and that she went to Testwood Baptist Church. She and her husband work with Sarah and Richard and it was they who had invited them to take part in an Alpha course. There was no course available at the time at Testwood Baptist and so Sarah and Richard came to Holy Rood instead.
As we were chatting (actually it was during the signing of the register) another Holy Rood member reached out to Charlotte saying how much she had enjoyed her testimony. This prompted me ask “What testimony”? Charlotte then gave me the link. Of course I reciprocated by giving her this one http://risenthemusical.com/
When I opened the Testwood Baptist church link I was so impressed with Charlotte’ Story and the way that it was presented that I just had to share it. I am not sure if it is classed as poetry or spoken word but whatever it is, it is brilliant. Please have a listen.
Quote of the week:
Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others.
Cast of “Ordinary Days” Max Panks, Kathryn Kitchener, David Murray and Katie Forge.
“What More Could You Do Lord?” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Where Would I Be Without You?” recorded and produced by Ross Gill
So last Friday I drove to Raynes Park – left my car – walked to the train station -caught a train (which now seems to be called an “Overground” ) to Clapham Junction – changed to catch another “Overground” to Clapham High Street- walked up Clapham High Street past endless bars (all pretty empty at 7.00 pm but all packed solid at 10.00 pm) ) turned right and came to the Bread and Roses pub and theatre. Why? Well because three of the cast of Risen! The Musical – Max Panks (Jesus) David Murray (Thomas) and Katie Forge (Joanna) were playing there in the musical “Ordinary Days” written by American composer Adam Gwon. The pub was great – everyone so very friendly- the theatre was intimate with a fantastic atmosphere and the show was fabulous.
If you have not heard of “Ordinary Days” here is a little synopsis:
Set in New York City, the musical follows four characters, Claire, Jason, Warren and Deb, exploring how their ordinary lives connect in the most amazing ways. The show includes 21 songs which tell the story of these two men and two women.
Claire is in her 30’s and is embarking on a new stage of her life with boyfriend Jason. The decision to share an apartment is the catalyst for Claire to face her past.
Jason is in his 30’s and is the boyfriend of Claire. A romantic at heart, he spends the bulk of the musical attempting to further his relationship, at first by moving in (“The Spaces Between”) and then by proposing. Claire consistently resists his attempts leading to the central conflict of their story arc (“Fine”).
In her mid- twenties, Deb is a cynical and defensive grad student who is struggling to find focus in her life. She meets struggling artist Warren when he finds her thesis notes in the street.
The cheerful and sometimes annoyingly optimistic Warren sees beauty in the simple things in life, delivering the musical’s message and final number (“Beautiful”).
London based company Curious Tales Theatre announced they were staging an amateur revival of “Ordinary Days” at The Bread and Roses Theatre for 5th-16th March 2019. Under the direction of Phoebe Rhodes and musical direction of Adam Parrish, the performance will feature live painting by artists and performers Max Panks (Jason) and Kathryn Kitchener (Claire).
So if you happen to be in London tonight, tomorrow or Saturday then I can wholeheartedly recommend you take a trip to the Bread and Roses theatre- you will be wonderfully entertained.
Quote of the week:
People need loving the most when they deserve it the least
The Word for Today