“His Story” by Sreejit Poole

Amritapuri House Band

This fall, Sreejit wrote a musical inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s Drum Major Instinct sermon. Chaitanya decided to use one act of it during the 2018 Amritapuri Christmas Eve cultural events. Sreejit played the role of a preacher in the performance. The words of the song that they used for the event was adapted from a portion of Dr. King’s sermon.

Sreejit as preacher

Sreejit published a live version of the song and it is available for free download:

The lyrics:

I know of a man about whom 
I’d like to discuss 
and maybe you’ll find that 
he walks among us 

this man, you might know him, 
he was great indeed 
he needed not a PhD 
to help those in need. 

Born in a small village 
his parents were poor 
his means were quite meager 
yet his intellect soared 

and though his mind 
did roar 
the poor he still loved because 
there was no one he felt he was above. 

there was no one he felt 
he was greater than 
because all were brothers and sisters guided 
by the Lord’s own hand 

This is his story, 
he came to fight 
for the whole world 
‘cause God was their birthright 

This is his story 
he came to win 
he came to forgive 
the world of its sin. 

This is his story. 

He learned his father’s trade 
to build houses 
while knowing his Father’s plan 
to move mountains 

at thirty 
he couldn’t stop talking – adamant – 
that all who could hear 
heard the new commandments 

about a father who loved all 
his children 
and would cradle them 
independent of their wisdom 

He never wrote a book, he never held office 
he never had a family, he never went to college 
he never owned a home, he never traveled more 
than 200 miles from the place he was born 

with his words he rocked many boats – 
fearless – their egos he refused to stroke 
He did none of the things that the world would raise 
above all else and heap upon praise 

but his greatness, 
was accepted 
‘cause the Lord’s light 
within it was reflected 

His greatness was protected 
‘cause the Lord’s light 
within it was reflected 

His greatness was protected 
because the Lord’s light 
within it was reflected 

His greatness was protected 
because the Lord’s light 
within it was reflected 

And when he looked at you 
he didn’t see social status 
When he looked at you 
he didn’t see black or white 
He didn’t see man or woman 
good or bad 
all he saw was his family 
in God’s holy light. 
When he looked at you… 
When he looked at you… 

there was no one he felt 
he was greater than 
because all were brothers and sisters guided 
by the Lord’s own hand 

This is his story 
he came to fight 
for the whole world 
‘cause God was their birthright. 

This is his story 
he came to win 
he came to forgive 
the world of its sin. 

This is his story.

To read previous posts in this series click here.

Amritapuri Christmas Play- Part 3

Surprise! I’m able to write the third post about the Amritapuri Christmas play after all. Enjoy!

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As I’ve mentioned before, this year’s Christmas musical was about the nativity story as told by a 9 year old child named Grace. Grace was living in a school for girls. She is the second child from the left in the first photo below. She is wearing a blue dress.

In many Indian plays, the actors don’t speak or sing, they lip sync. The musicians and people singing or speaking for the actors are out of sight. In this play, they were sitting on the left side of the stage.

The children were amazing. They had practiced their roles so thoroughly that you couldn’t tell they weren’t saying anything.

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In Grace’s version of the nativity story, one of the wise men came from Africa. She named him Tsabo Babatunde. Tsabo was very, very old. When he received God’s direction to follow the star to Bethlehem, so that he could welcome another great soul to the world, he obeyed.

Tsabo was able to talk to animals, and they talked to him. One of the songs in the musical was Come Awake Africa.

[Note: You can enlarge the photos in this post by clicking on the photo galleries. To hear the songs, click on the audiofiles.]

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Joseph and Mary sang and danced with their friends before they traveled to Bethlehem.

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One of the  most intense scenes of the play occurred when it was time for Mary to give birth and no one would give them the couple a place to stay. I think you will get a sense of the intensity by listening to the song. I still get goose bumps when I hear it.

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An angel was present during the nativity scene. As you look at the photos and listen to the music know that she was 30-40 feet above the floor!

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One of the most touching scenes was near the end when Mary let Grace hold baby Jesus.

Throughout his journey, Tsabo had visions of what the adult Jesus would do in his life. Those visions were enacted. The photo below is from one of the last scenes in the play when Jesus was talking about love.

It was a wonderful musical. I hope you were able to get a sense of that from the photos and songs in this post.

To read the previous posts in this series click here.

Amritapuri Christmas Play 2017

The Christmas play was last night and it was as wonderful as I expected it to be. Every year I think the musicals can’t get any better, and then they do.

The title of this year’s musical was Walking Beside Us. It was the nativity story as told by a young child living at the Rosenberg School for Girls. It will be a while before I will have access to the photos from the play but I will share a video clip of part of a scene from one of the very early practices now. I think it will give you a sense of what the play was like.

The child who was telling the story of Jesus’ birth decided that one of the wise men was from Africa. In this video clip the woman who plays that wise man (in the play she is a man) is dancing with many types of animals. You will also see her teaching the animals how to do African dance.

I look forward to sharing photos from the play itself so that you can see what the costumes looked like when they were finished.

It is either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day where all of you live, so I will end this post by saying “Merry Christmas!”

Amritapuri Christmas Play: The Loving Father

The Amritapuri Christmas play this year was based on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son; with the main focus being on the love of the father. No  names are used in the parable, so for the play the father was called Jonas, and his sons were Jeremiah and Matthew. Matthew was the son who left home.

Here are a selection of photos from the production. (If you click on the gallery the photos will be enlarged.)

There were so  many beautiful songs. I’m going to share the audio from my two favorites. This first one, “I Search My Soul,” was written by my son Sreejit. In it, Jonas, Jeremiah and Matthew are singing simultaneously as they look within themselves.

Most of the songs in the play are original. There was one song though, that is commonly used by churches in plays about the prodigal son. Some of the words were changed to fit the script for this production, but it is basically the same as When God Ran written by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  The song is so moving. I still cry every time I listen to it.

I feel full of gratitude for everyone that worked together to create The Loving Father.

Thanks to Chaitanya who wrote the script and co-directed the play.

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Thanks to Devapriya who choreographed the dances.

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Thanks to Devika who co-directed the play with Chaitanya and played the role of Jesus.

Thanks to Jani who spends countless hours designing and sewing the costumes.

In most plays in India, the actors are not actually talking or singing. There is a group of musicians and singers who sit to the side of the stage who provide the instrumentation and the voices. So a special thanks to all of the musicians and singers who worked night and day to create and learn the dialogue and songs for this production.

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And of course endless thanks to all the actors and dancers as well as those who sewed costumes, translated, created props, prepared power point slides, and set up and ran the lighting… and to anyone I forgot to mention.

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without…..

One of the reasons I go to Amritapuri at this time of year is because I love to be involved in the Christmas musical that is performed on Christmas Eve. During the first three weeks in December, the final touches are made to the script; actors are chosen and learn their lines; musicians and singers learn their songs; costumes, back drops and props are made; sound and lighting are planned for, etc. The list could go on and on. Simultaneously, there are rehearsals occurring all over the ashram.

Here are some photos, taken by various photographers, from last year’s Christmas play. I think they will give you a sense of why I love being part of the process so much. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without….

Song Lyric Sunday: Black Boys/White Boys

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I was a bit surprised when I discovered that the theme for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday was sex. I thought that would be a tough one for me to participate in as I didn’t think I knew any songs about sex, but that belief quickly turned out to be wrong.

Yesterday, I posted two songs about hair, my own (Sixty-eight Years of Hair) and a reblog of my son’s (Nearly Forty-two Years of Hair.) My friend Kathie from ChosenPerspectives used a video clip from Hair in her comment to my post. The songs from that musical are an important part of my history and I love them. I had no doubt I could find a song fitting for this week’s challenge in that play.

Hair: the American Tribal Love-Rock is a musical about the 1960’s hippie counterculture and sexual revolution. It was controversial for it’s depiction of drug use, irreverence for the American flag, profane language, racially integrated cast and ending nude scene. It opened off-Broadway in 1967 and on-Broadway in 1969. That version ran for 1750 performances. There have been many other productions of the Hair musical in the U.S. and Europe since then.

I attended the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1970 and the cast from Hair performed there. I also thoroughly enjoyed watching a production of Hair  with a friend in Seattle 8-10 years ago. I had forgotten about the nude scene at the end so that was quite a surprise!

The songs I have chosen for this Song Lyric Sunday are Black Boys and White Boys.

Black Boys Lyrics

I’ve got, baby
I’ve got, baby
I’ve got, baby…
Black boys are delicious
Chocolate flavored love
Licorice lips like candy
Keep my cocoa handy
I have such a sweet tooth
When it comes to love
Black boys are delicious
Mocha mousse, hot fudge
Maple syrup plenty
Hot brown sugar daddies,
They are my desert trays
When it comes to love
Once I tried a diet
Of quiet, rest, no sweets
But I went nearly crazy
And I went nearly crazy
Because I really craved for
My chocolate flavored treats
Oh!
Black boys are nutritious
Black boys fill me up
Black boys are so damn yummy
They satisfy my tummy
Black boys are delicious
Raisins in the sun
Black, black, black,
Black, black, black,
Black, black,
Black boys!

 

White boys are so pretty
Skin as smooth as milk
White boys are so pretty
Hair like Chinese silk
White boys give me goose bumps
White boys give me chills
When they touch my shoulder
That’s the touch that kills
Well, my momma calls ’em lilies
I call ’em Piccadillies
My daddy warns me stay away
But I say white boy come on and play
White boys are so groovy
White boys are so tough
Every time that they’re near me
Just can’t get enough
White boys are so pretty
White boys are so sweet
White boys drive me crazy
Drive me indiscreet
White boys are so sexy
Legs so long and lean
Love those sprayed-on trousers
Love the love machine
My brother calls ’em rubble
That’s my kind of trouble
My daddy warns me “no no no no”
But I say “White boys go go go go”
White boys are so lovely
Beautiful as girls
I love to run my fingers
And toes through all their curls
Give me a tall
A lean
A sexy
A sweet
A pretty
A juicy
White boy
Black boys!
White boys!
Black boys!
White boys!
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When You Feel Like Darkness Has You Bound

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I love watching the path my mind takes when I am determining what song to use for the Song Lyric Sunday challenge. I start by thinking about what songs would address the theme for the week, but I often don’t end up there.

This week the theme was protest songs. The song I used for my second week of doing this challenge was We Shall Overcome so I considered some of the 60’s protest songs. But then my mind went a different direction. I thought about two of the Blues songs my son Sreejit wrote some years back. I listened to them both, but as I was considering them, another song came to mind.

My daughter Chaitanya and my son Sreejit live at Amma’s Amritapuri ashram in Kerala, India. People for all religions come to Amma, and all religions are respected. For the last seven or eight years my son and daughter have been very instrumental in creating the Christmas play that is performed on Christmas Eve each year. Chaitanya writes and directs the plays and Sreejit and his friends compose most of the tunes. The plays are in the style of Broadway musicals.

The particular play that came to my mind was performed in 2012 and was titled God is Able. The setting was a Southern style Gospel church. Sreejit was the preacher! The story line covered the stories of Moses leading the Jews to the promised land, Rachael being healed by touching Jesus’ garment, and a fictional account of the heart of an angry store keeper being healed. I never will forget the moment in the play when the stage doors opened and our sparkling “Gospel Choir” became visible. It seemed like everyone in the auditorium did a collective gasp. Part of the reason I remember the gasp and the thunderous applause and shouts that followed our song so well is that I was part of the choir!!!

Choir

The song I have chosen is Dear God. The tune was written by Sreejit and the lyrics by Chaitanya.  It is not a protest song but it is a song that is very relevant to times of darkness which is often what proceeds protest.

The mp3 recording and the lyrics are below.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I still do!

When you feel like darkness has you bound
And you can’t see any way to get out
There’s a power which surrounds us all
Through God anything is possible

Never fear
Never let your doubts draw near
With courage face all that comes
Put your trust into God’s arms
He’ll protect you from all harm
His love will carry you on through

Dear God, hold us tight never let us leave thy sight
Dear God, fill our soul with your love make us whole

Sreejit singing above the choir:

God is able to calm the wild storm
God is able to make the weak strong
God is able to bring change within
God is able to do all things

One Minute, One Hour, One Day at a Time

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My favorite joke, and the only one I ever remember is:

Question: Do you know how to make God laugh?

Answer: Tell him your plans for your life

Being with Amma is always a chance to work on learning to not be attached to plans and instead letting your life unfold.  That lesson was definitely the theme of my day on December 19. Continue reading “One Minute, One Hour, One Day at a Time”

God is Able

Every year, I spend the Christmas season in Amritapuri, Amma’s ashram in Kerala, India.  One of the highlights of the season is that on Christmas eve the Western residents present a Christmas play.  For the last five years, they have been Broadway style musicals.  That event is even more special to me because my daughter Chaitanya writes and directs the plays and my son composes most of the musical scores.  In addition, he works with the singers and plays the harmonium, an instrument that has a keyboard and bellows. Continue reading “God is Able”