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Following Jesus

Lullaby of the Sleeping World

March 21, 2018 by

To welcome the early Eastertide this year, we share a selection from “A Garden for Jesus,” a cantata for children written in 1976 by Jane Tyson Clement and Marlys Swinger. The lyrics and melodies describe the earth and its flowers, butterflies, birds, rodents, and reptiles waking and preparing God’s creation not only for the terrestrial springtime, but also for the holy springtime when Christ will return and walk among us again.

Listen on SoundCloud.

Reminiscing about the genesis of the piece, Clement wrote in 1993:

Because I frequently worked with young children in our school and because one of our greatest joys was going on nature walks in all seasons and weathers, I myself became ever more aware of the wonders of God’s world and the miracle of spring. Therefore, in 1976, when the idea of working on poems for an Easter cantata was put to me, I took it up immediately.
Image of an iris
photograph by Darius Clement
I well remember the first time this cantata was performed. For me it was a moving occasion, especially to see the joyful participation of the children. They knew exactly what they were singing about: they had watched the moth come forth; they had searched for the first shoots of the bulbs; they had heard the newly hatched peepers; they had seen the returning birds. They also knew, although they might not have been able to verbalize it, the source from which all this came.
Now it is a difficult time in the world for most children, when from all sides problems, sufferings, and struggles beset them. But the simple joy in life and creation is still with them; the true childlike spirit will win. We can rejoice in that!

Forty-two years after the premiere of this cantata, children still connect with the innate truths of “A Garden for Jesus.” Listen now as the opening number is sung by the elementary school at Woodcrest. (If anyone wishes to perform this work in whole or in part – it contains seven numbers and performance time is around twenty minutes – we’d be happy to provide music, including lyrics and piano accompaniment.)

Lullaby of the Sleeping World
See, the earth is sleeping now;
Quietly God bids it lie
Under bright or snow-filled sky
While the winter weeks pass by.
All the earth to Him must bow;
Folded in His love they sleep:
Little beasts that swim and creep;
Seed and flow’r are hidden deep.
They await His call to rise,
Lying under moss and stone,
Coiled together, curled alone,
And the birds that far have flown.
They remember Paradise
With the heav’nly garden there,
The golden fields and meadows where
Lord Jesus is the gardener fair.

Update (September 2018):

Here's an additional recording of "Lullaby of the Sleeping World" plus a bonus song for you: "The Easter Bells" from the same cantata. Both were recorded in the late 1990s.

The Easter Bells
The Easter bells are ringing out,
Crowning the hills with golden song.
The Easter Angels cry “Arise!
Fling wide the gates of Paradise!”
See the earth is flowering now,
God looks upon it and is glad.
The shining air is filled with praise
For Jesus walks in His garden.
Make a garden of my heart,
Where the flowers of love may grow,
The dark and cold forever gone,
O, come and walk in my garden.
The Easter bells are ringing out,
Crowning the hills with golden song.
The Easter Angels cry “Arise!
Fling wide the gates of Paradise!”

 

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