A Fitting Emblem and Sonnet for a Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage web banner

Folks have been asking about the emblem created for my new album project, Pilgrimage (release date: Sept 15/14).

A while back, Len Hjarmilson sent me a draft copy of a book he was working on, in which he wrote:

“The challenge we face as followers of the Incarnate One is to move from the posture of a tourist to the posture of a pilgrim. Tourists are escaping life; pilgrims are embracing it… tourists are trying to forget: pilgrims are trying to remember.”

Pilgrim YearThis stuck with me and became a sort-of mental backdrop to the series of multi-media ebooks I began to release last fall called PilgrimYear, which introduces the reader to the spirituality of the Christian calendar year through reflective text, art, poetry and song.


This year marks the 25th anniversary of my first solo album, Comfort My People, in 1989 and it only made sense to stay with the pilgrimage metaphor as a framework for a new project. I won’t get into detail of the project now… it’s fairly ambitious and includes four discs and a book, and you can watch a promo video for the project HERE…

But besides the content, I wanted the design and packaging to be exceptional and meaningful.   The work of Roberta Hanson caught my eye as she did the design for The Bros. Landreth album released last fall.  There’s a contemplative ambience to all her work that struck me, and I felt confident she was the one to work on this project.

I asked Roberta to come up with an emblem that would incorporate several traditional symbols of pilgrimage.  For example, traditionally a pilgrim would carry a scallop shell used to scoop water from streams along the way.  A dagger would also be carried for many practical purposes, none-the-least being to ward off danger.  A compass kept one oriented when ever the North Star was obscured by daylight or cloud. And then there was the natural greening (new life) that issues from a pilgrimage deliberately and attentively taken.

What Roberta came up with was marvelous, and  I often find my self gazing into it as if I hear a distant beckoning:


Pigrimage cover large


Just yesterday, I emailed Malcolm Guite, the English poet whose work has so influenced mine as of late.  I wrote that there was a space in the design of the project for a Malcolm Guite sonnet, and how lovely it would be to include, if he was able to come up with something. It was only a few hours before the sonnet came volleying back over the ocean.

A sonnet, like an emblem, icon, or song, rewards those who sit–quietly, attentively, expectantly– with it for some time.  Although this is a first draft, Malcolm gave me permission to share:


PILGRIMAGE by Malcolm Guite (May 10/14)

Come, dip a scallop shell into the font
For birth and blessings as a child of God.
Eternal life still rises from that fount
Whence all things come, that you may bathe and wade
And find the flow, and learn at last to follow
The course of love upstream towards your home
The day is done and all the fields lie fallow
One thing is needful, one voice calls your name.

Take the true compass now, be compassed round
By clouds of witnesses, chords of love unbound.
Turn to the Son, begin your pilgrimage,
Take time with Him to find your true direction.
He travels with you through this darkened age
And wakes you every day to resurrection.


see: promo video for PILGRIMAGE






5 thoughts on “A Fitting Emblem and Sonnet for a Pilgrimage

  1. Gave me goosebumps. I like the line “chords of love unbound” – incorporates your music in a subtle way.

  2. It’s a beautiful combination of elements and does take on something of the character of a mandala. It reminds me of the pilgrimage we took to Santiago de Compostela. I believe the scallop shell is a particular symbol of this pilgrimage and the dagger is the cross of St. James. The various routes of the Camino are marked by little yellow arrows or the scallop shell. Thanks again for your ministry Steve.

  3. There are so many threads for the pilgrim to pursue in this sonnet: the invitation to scoop up blessings, the discipline of the upslope slog to find the source of living water, the recognition that from fallowness can come fruitfulness. This sonnet is a fitting partner and prelude to the songs which will follow.

  4. Dear Steve:
    I’m very much a “word person” but words are hard found with regard to this Pilgrimage adventure you & many of your friends are on… From when I was introduced to your music by our then, Pastor Ralf, I was smitten. Your music had me in its grips. I was blessed by word, sound & talent. Now, in the wake of your 3rd concert @ Bethesda Lutheran Church, I’m so excited to be a small part of your Pilgrimage Project! I feel like a child again – waiting for my Christmas package from my loved aunts in California. They never failed to deliver me joy! Reading Malcolm’s sonnet (& his book) was a sheer pleasure. What a grand entrance into what is yet to come! I understand more now, why you cherish Malcolm’s work & chose it for “Keening”… The 2 of you are a gifted pair & we are recipients when you collaborate!
    Blessings Steve & I’ll keep you lifted in prayer for success on Pilgrimage. I have no doubt it will be just that!
    Sue LaMarche

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