Christ, My Strength and Portion

This is a song I composed on the piano about a year ago (July 2018). One day, when I have time, I’ll upload a recording:
Christ My Strength and Portion
Num. 23:19; Pss. 3:2-3; 55:12-13; 57:1; 71:5; 73:25-26; Mark 10:45; John 2:24-25; 17:17; Phil. 1:21; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Pet. 1:18-19
Verse 1
       C                  G                Am
The slander and flattery of man may deceive
             F                G             C
But my LORD, His Word is Truth
    F                 G                C G/B Am
To Him the unchanging God I cleave
     F               G                        C
My hope and trust from my youth
Verse 2
             C                  G                      Am
Though foes may revile and close friends betray
            F                 G        C
But my LORD, He is my shield
          F                 G                   C    G/B Am
In the shadow of His mighty wings I stay
              F               G                  C
He’s my glory, the lifter of my head
Chorus
                             F
Whom have I in heaven but You?
                                        G
And earth has nothing for me but You
                                  Am
My weary flesh and heart may yet fail
                                  F                      G                 C
But Christ is all my strength and portion forever
Verse 3
The Lord gave Himself as my ransom price
Let all I do, His love constrain
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
Now to live is Christ, die is gain

Poems & Songs

I love to create music and compose verses. Here you can find my original songs and poems that are scattered throughout my blog:

Double Spout
Empty Pews
Glory After All
Pressed Grapes
Scarlet Yarn

Double Spout

(This poem is a tribute to my patient wife in blues form, which has roots in the African-American oral tradition and typically expresses, per Ralph Ellison, “the agony of life and the possibility of conquering it through sheer toughness of spirit.”)

Your water can’s got a double spout
Drippin’ sad tears to make me sprout
Your water can’s got a double spout
Cryin’ sorry drops to make me sprout
‘Cause you bin waitin’ it’s overdue

To break my harsh and arid pout
And moisten dry and hardened flout
To break my harsh and arid pout
And soften mean and stubborn flout
Baby keep goin’ and don’t you rue

When you’s over and under, done bottomed out
Your can’s got nothin’ but airs of doubt
When you’s over and under, done bottomed out
Your can’s bin emptied and full of doubt
Mix your drops with heaven’s dew

-ssw (11/20/2015)

Pressed Grapes

From South of the vineyard, leaks
three drops, pressed from precious grapes that never felt the
swaddling cloth.

From East of the garden, he bleeds
for three days, trampled in the winepress of wrath, groaning in the pangs of
childbirth.

Empty Pews

The white-washed tombs under stained-glass windows
strain out a gnat but swallow a camel;
to the alien, the poor, the widows,
they throw politic and polite trammel.

Mirror balls dazzle beneath the steeples,
but no one kneels before vacant altars.
Gospel beckons lost and lonely peoples,
but neutered and shamed its promise falters.

Voluminous words from preacher’s mouth spew;
coffers ring and a fine career is made.
He indulges thousands, but saves only few,
the cross, the Christ, are only a charade.

From the empty grave like Mt. Hermon’s dew,
O Lord, with your grace fill these empty pews.

Scarlet Yarn

During the time of Moses, priests were instructed to dip scarlet yarn into animal blood and use it to sprinkle, and thus purify, the ritually impure (Leviticus 14:6-7, 49-51). But why scarlet yarn? Why not blue or purple, like the yarns used to weave the curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1)? After all, blue and purple yarns were the most expensive yarns of the ancient world, symbolizing royalty and nobility… The “scarlet yarn” is a translation from the Hebrew ‏שְׁנִי הַתּוֹלַעַת, which literally means “scarlet worm.” According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon (BDB), the etymology of the word “scarlet” suggests the coccus ilicis, a scale insect that attaches itself to oak trees native to the western Mediterranean in order to feed (§8144). So what does this bug have to do with scarlet? When a female attaches itself to an oak and dies, its dried body yields scarlet dye. Its death produces the means of purification–a process that undoubtedly foreshadows Christ, whose death on a tree (Acts 5:30; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24) poured forth the blood that cleanses us from our sins (Hebrews 9:11-28). May every post on this blog, from now ’til its cyber termination, point people to Christ!

While this symbolism is not made explicit in the immediate Biblical context, the use of scarlet yarn in Old Testament purification rites is noted by the author of Hebrews, who argues that the blood of the covenant was fulfilled by Christ with his own blood.

Moreover, scarlet (or red) as a symbol for blood is widely attested throughout the Bible. A red heifer (Num. 19:1-10) is used in the Old Testament for a purification sacrifice, Israel’s “sins … like scarlet” are likened to the bloodstained hands of murderers (Isa. 1:15, 18), and the dragon (Rev. 12:3) and beast (Rev. 17:3) of Revelation are described as “red” to represent the shedding of innocent blood (Rev. 16:6). The moon turns into “blood” to symbolize divine retribution (Joel 2:31; Rev. 6:12), the “red horse” of warfare inflicts God’s judgment upon evil men (Zech. 6:2; Rev. 6:4), and God’s avenging wrath is demonstrated by his “crimsoned garments” with “lifeblood spattered” on them due to his treading in the winepress of wrath (Isa 63:1-6).

Finally, Christ’s atonement is powerfully expressed through the paradoxical image of believers’ robes that are washed “white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. :14), which fulfills Isaiah’s prophesy: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” A yarn (wool) dyed in scarlet invokes these themes of guilt, atoning bloodshed, and innocence.

Scarlet Yarn

Twined linen, dripping scarlet red
And curtaining his face (Ex. 26:1)
Embroidered on the ephod donned
To enter holy place (Ex. 28:6-8; 39:1-5)

The scarlet yarn unspooled and spilled
To dye the skeins of sin
Flows freely from his naked wounds
To cover my chagrin

With hyssop dipped in gurgling blood
To sprinkle lepers clean (Lev. 14:1-7; Heb. 9:18-22)
Red heifer’s blood, consuming fire
To purify and glean (Num. 19:1-6)

The scarlet yarn unspooled and spilled
To dye the skeins of sin
Flows freely from his naked wounds
To cover my chagrin

Cascading down the Jer’cho wall
To wipe a harlot’s slate (Josh. 2:18-21)
Red robe adorns his bloodied back
It’s my Redeemer’s fate (Mt. 27:27-28)

The scarlet yarn unspooled and spilled
To dye the skeins of sin
Flows freely from his naked wounds
To cover my chagrin