We Fall Back Amazed / New From Mike Janzen

Below you’ll find the audio, lyrics and my commentary of a song from Mike Janzen’s newly released double CD, The Psalms Project.

This sublime collection emerges from Mike’s long struggle to recover from a debilitating head injury that literally left him in the dark for several years while those of us who love him prayed so desperately for our beloved friend’s recovery.

Knowing Mike as I do, I’m not surprised that with his recovery comes a project that hush-nows our tears and causes us to fall silent before the Holy. After hearing this particular song, a neighbour of mine, for whom long-suffering has been a feature of her life, wrote, “There is something beyond earthly understanding in the praise that emanates from the suffering of the Lord’s saints. It is a love language that stops the mouths of those blessed to witness it, for it does not originate from the sufferer, but rather from [their] Creator.”

Below are my thoughts about his wonderful setting for Psalm 97 which he entitles, “We Fall Back Amazed.”

Listen to the song below… read the reflection and the lyrics. You can purchase the whole project and access the online docu-concert here: http://www.mikejanzentrio.com/psalms-project

-Steve Bell

Click above to listen: WE FALL BACK AMAZED | Psalm 97 (lyrics at bottom of page)

*****

“The Lord is King!” claims the author of Psalm 97. The poet goes on to use language befitting an Imperial anthem, or a Nationalistic display of military might, or the immoderate spectacle of the opening ceremonies of Superbowl Sunday:

Clouds and darkness surround Him!

Consuming fire goes before him!

Lightning rods terrorize all who see him!

Mountains melt like wax!

Righteousness and peace (Pax Romana?) follow in its terrible, destructive path!

If one were to commission a composer to create a piece of music from the above images, one would expect to hear subsonic synthesizers, blazing trumpets, crashing cymbals, portentous medieval choirs and no end of audio wizardry to complete the task.

What one would not expect, however, is what Mike Janzen did with the text.

Mike’s setting is far from triumphalistic. Its keening tone, melody and chord structure elicits the ache and longing of a displaced people far more than the victory parade of a conquering army.  Only one who has been traumatized and humbled (not humiliated) by a profound dark night of the soul could have conceived of such a musical setting. Only one whose hopes and dreams have been annealed through suffering could allow such a counter-intuitive composition to emerge.

I find it interesting that the Church, in her cruciformed imagination, has traditionally used this Psalm on Christmas day to celebrate the birth of her unlikely King; born on the periphery of power, displaced as a refugee, misunderstood, rejected, betrayed, murdered and publicly displayed as a warning spectacle to any who might dare to imagine an alternative to the splendors of Adam.

The genius of Mikes setting, in my mind anyway, is in a paradox embedded at the close of the song with the repeated line “Be lifted up” following the declaration “Most High God!” The first pass ends on a triumphant major chord as if to declare, “It is finished!!” The second pass ends on a sorrowful minor. The artist, here, has intuited the true glory of the Most High who has bound himself to the heartbreaking tragedy of the victims of those who have eyes but cannot yet see, and ears but cannot yet hear.

Mike’s setting is a profound example of what I’ve always maintained, that music, in itself, is language. And music, like all other languages, can say things that only music can uniquely say. Blessed are we on account of those for whom music is their mother-tongue.

-Steve Bell

WE FALL BACK AMAZED | PSALM 97
music and lyrics by Mike Janzen

The Lord is God
And towering clouds enshroud
Deep fire glows in His eyes
His holiness glows and lights

The mountains melt
Like candles before the flame
The heavens lit bright proclaim
The glory spun for His name

chorus:
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
Holy is Your name
Righteous are your ways
We fall back amazed

The Lord who reigns
His throne wrapped in righteousness
His love held with justice
His people made glad with this

The light that shines
It pierces the righteous heart
Envelopes their every part
Death’s shadows and each new start

chorus 2
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
Holy is Your name
Righteous are your ways
We fall back amazed
Praise the Lord
Praise the Lord
Let the earth rejoice
Lifting heart and voice
Holy is your name

bridge:
Most High God
Over all the earth
Be lifted up
Be lifted up

Find all things Mike Janzen @ http://www.mikejanzentrio.com/



7 thoughts on “We Fall Back Amazed / New From Mike Janzen

  1. Yes, it was the ‘keening tone’ that had me right from verse one. There was nothing I could do but bow down internally while listening to this warm, yet melancholic beauty with its surrendered vocals & sublime piano melody. God bless this song.

  2. The beauty that is Present in this song is a very holy thing from a very holy place. It struck me to the core and placed me in His Presence without any effort on my part and continues to every time I listen. Thank you Mike Janzen for opening yourself to receive such a profound voice from our kind and loving Heavenly Father.

  3. Thank you, Steve, for your beautiful words here, and for introducing me to Mike’s music. There is something beyond earthly understanding in the praise that emanates from the suffering of the Lord’s saints. It is a love language that stops the mouths of those blessed to witness it, for it does not originate from the sufferer, but rather from his Creator. And the only fitting response is praise to our Father in Heaven. This was just breathtaking!

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