© 2018 David Lohman Music

11. Believe Out Loud

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

In my prior work for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR), we were part of the advisory board that formed what was to ultimately become Believe Out Loud. The inspiration came from polling done by the Public Religion Research Institute. (Don’t freak out. This is going to get a bit wonky for a few moments!) In short, the polling revealed that in matters concerning LGBTQ issues, a majority of people in the pews felt they were more progressive than their clergy, and therefore remained silent, waiting for the clergy to begin the conversation. Remarkable, the same polling showed that a majority of clergy felt that they, in fact, were more progressive than their congregants, and therefore remained similarly silent. So that means that a majority of people of faith – clergy and laity – are supportive of LGBTQ inclusion, yet so few were talking about it. Too many of us were keeping the light of God’s Inclusion very well-hidden (Matthew 5:15). Therein lies the need to believe out loud. The common misperception is that people of faith are, by and large, anti-LGBTQ, and LGBTQ people are anti-faith. This polling, and so much like it, shatters that false dichotomy.

 

I found this all tremendously exciting, and Believe Out Loud has gone on to do great things to lift up the voices of pro-LGBTQ people of faith. When Believe Out Loud and its website had its big launch in early 2010, in addition to working for IWR, I was also serving as Minister of Music at Living Table United Church of Christ. We were among a handful of ecumenical congregations across the country who took part in that launch. And I thought that the occasion screamed for a theme song!

 

REFRAIN

It's time to believe out loud –

no more staying silent!

It's time to proclaim aloud

the faith that we hold dear.

It's time to reach out to the rejected.

It's time to stand up and say, "No more!"

It's time to declare a Word of Welcome,

bring everyone through the opened doors.

It's time to believe out loud,

It's time to be strong and proud,

It's time to believe, believe out loud!

 

1. Our God remains unchanging,

yet in so many ways

the Holy One's still speaking,

for this we offer praise.

Yet God's all-loving guidance

too often goes unheard.

But there is yet more wisdom

to break forth from God's Word! Refrain

 

2. If thoughts like love and justice

are more than hollow words,

we'll listen for the Spirit

and let our hearts be stirred.

We'll learn to think in new ways,

the doors we'll open wide.

The table's set and ready,

bring everyone inside! Refrain

 

3. The love of God is boundless,

we're never turned away.

And out of this abundance,

this gift we must repay.

We've got to stand with millions

who've heard the Spirit's call,

and shout it from the mountains:

“God’s love is meant for ALL!” Refrain

 

© 2010 David Lohman Music

10. Be Still

Psalm 46:10

Music by David Lohman

 

Written for a national gathering of the Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ. The worship leader that year, Rev. Elaine Kirkland, wanted something meditative for the next day’s worship. I said that I’d write something overnight. Inspired by the tradition of music from the Taizé Community in France, this very short meditation is meant to be sung by the congregation or choir again and again. With repetition, much like a mantra, our minds can calm and become silent, creating room for an encounter with the Divine. In 2013, this was published in the Community of Christ Sings hymnal.

 

Be still and know I am God.

 

© 2003 David Lohman Music

7. Christ Is the Host

Words by the Community of Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ and David Lohman, Music by David Lohman

 

I served as Minister of Music at Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ (later known as Living Table UCC) for sixteen years. Back in 1992, we became the first predominantly LGBTQ congregation ever to be welcomed into a mainline Protestant denomination. Communion held a central role in our worship each and every Sunday. One of our guiding beliefs was that no one or no church ever has the power to say that anyone was not welcome at Christ’s table, or undeserving of God’s radically-inclusive love. “For nothing can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:38) To say contrary is a form of spiritual abuse. At Spirit of the Lakes, it seemed that almost every week there was a newcomer who would sit crying through much of the service, experiencing, perhaps for the first time in years, the message that they could be both their authentic self and a beloved child of God, all at the same time. In my years at Spirit of the Lakes, I was witness to the healing of so many Church-inflicted wounds.

 

REFRAIN

Christ is the host,

Christ sets the table,

and Christ welcomes all,

Christ welcomes all.

 

1. Christ's invitation is open,

extended to us, one and all.

No exceptions, conditions, or limits;

come forth and answer the call. Refrain

 

2. Whether your heart's feeling burdened,

or whether your heart's light and free,

you are welcome to come to the table

Christ's love is here; taste and see. Refrain

 

© 2010 David Lohman Music

6. The Last, the Lost, the Least

Words and Music by David Lohman

Jesus spent his life living and working on the margins of society, and working against the tyranny at the centers of power. From those humble roots, the Church has sadly evolved into a huge institution now occupying the very centers of power that Jesus fought against. Now and for centuries past, those living on the margins…sexual and gender minorities, the poor, racial minorities, etc. … are treated by the Church as the “least of these.” (Matthew 25:40) I choose to follow a Jesus who calls us to work in solidarity with those whom the powerful would cast off. I choose to follow a Jesus who calls us to fling the church doors open wide and invite everyone to come in and find a place at the Table. I choose to follow a Jesus who, rather than proclaim God’s condemnation, would have us proclaim the Good News that God’s love is for ALL. This song was inspired by my friend, the Rev. Marguerite Unwin Voelkel, who often says that her many years of ministry have been devoted to helping the last, the lost, and the least.

 

1. Jesus lived among the outcasts,

with the Last, the Lost, the Least;

and he offered them a welcome,

saying, "Come, and join the feast.

For the banquet hall is open,

see a place, set here, for you.

Enter in, lay down your burdens,

come and feast and be renewed."

 

REFRAIN

And yet still today he’s asking,

"My dear friends, don't turn away.

Will you follow my example?

Love the outcasts now, I pray."

 

2. All their lives they'd heard the message

from the gatekeepers of God

that their lives were deemed unworthy,

they were sinful, broken, flawed.

But he said, "I'll never leave you

on the outside gazing in.

Leave your wounds and hurts behind you,

you'll find healing love within." Refrain

 

3. And yet, all these centuries later,

still the painful truth remains

far too many on the outside,

and the Church doors locked with chains.

So, we're called to loose those shackles,

fling the church doors open wide;

to extend a hand of welcome,

and invite them all inside. Refrain

 

4. Can we find the moral courage

now to finally heed his call?

For the Last, can we start proving

there is truly room for all?

For the Lost, can we go searching

'til at last they're safely found?

For the Least, can we uplift them,

stand them, firm, on holy ground? Refrain

 

© 2013 David Lohman Music

4. Still, Small Voice

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

I believe that the Divine rarely comes to us in a huge, dramatic fashion. Rather, the most profound moments of connection that I have come when I was able to utterly surrender, emptying myself of thoughts, of desires, of a list of things that I wish God would do or grant. For me, it’s in those hard-to-achieve moments of utter stillness that I am able to hear the still, small voice of God that Elijah experienced (I Kings 19:12). For me, the experience takes me beyond language to a place of “sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). I wrote this song as an invitation to prayer, a way in to that place of stillness where the ears of our hearts can be open to the faintest whisperings of the Spirit.

 

As we gather in this circle,

as we lift our hearts in prayer,

may we set aside distractions,

every worry, every care.

May our busy minds be silent,

finding peace amid the noise,

till the only thing remaining

is Your simple, still, small voice.

 

© 2014 David Lohman Music

3. For All the Children

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

This is the very first song for which I wrote both music and lyrics. I wasn’t long after starting to work for the Institute for Welcoming Resources, part of the LGBTQ-Welcoming Faith Movement, helping to create congregations fully welcoming of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. One of our key partners in this work was the Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ. The Rev. Ann B. Day and her partner Donna Enberg headed up the Open and Affirming program, and after twenty years of visionary leadership, Ann and Donna were retiring. My colleague at the time, the Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, asked if I would write a hymn in honor of their profound contributions to the Welcoming Movement. The task was daunting, because I had never written lyrics before. I stared at a blank sheet for weeks as the deadline drew ever closer. Then I thought of the adage, “Write what you know.” So, what did I know? Well, I was clear that the reason I was doing this Welcoming work was so that queer kids growing up after me wouldn’t have to experience the despair, isolation, and shame that had filled my own adolescent years. Once that was clear in my mind, thoughts began pouring onto the page and the song almost wrote itself.

 

This song has gone on to be sung in welcoming congregations across the country. In 2012, Catholics for Marriage Equality used it to create a video for Minnesota’s marriage equality campaign. The filming of that video, in a church filled with passionate Catholics raising their voices, remains one of my life’s most fulfilling moments. That video has gone on to be viewed tens of thousands of times. In 2013, it was published in the Community of Christ Sings hymnal.

 

The fact that this song has been so embraced speaks volumes about what people are NOT hearing in their churches. Church, at its best, is a place where God’s unfathomable and limitless love is celebrated. At its worst, church can be a place where our prejudices and fears of those who are different receive reinforcement every time it declares who is, and who is not, acceptable in God’s sight. Oh, the hubris. How many terrified and tortured LGBTQ kids must commit suicide before the Church realizes that they are complicit? Kids are killing themselves because their churches are telling them that who they are (and who God created them to be!) is an abomination.

 

I do the work that I do for all the children.

 

1. God, we gather as your people

to raise our song above,

and we dare to claim the promise of Your love.

Though the day may not yet be here,

we trust it soon will be

when your children will be free.

 

REFRAIN

Oh, may our hearts and minds be opened,

fling the church doors open wide.

May there be room enough for everyone inside.

For in God there is a welcome,

in God we all belong.

May that welcome be our song.

 

2. Oh, we sing for all the children,

that one day they be free;

and we sing for generations yet to be,

that they never have a reason

to doubt that they are blessed.

May they, in your love, find rest. Refrain

 

3. Oh, we pray for all the young lives

cut short by fear and shame,

so afraid of who they are and whom they love.

May the message now be banished

that Your love is for the few;

may their faith in You renew. Refrain

 

4. God, we're working for the future

when children far and wide

can live their lives with dignity and pride.

As they grow in strength and stature,

may they join us hand in hand,

as against all hate we stand. Refrain

 

© 2007 David Lohman Music

1. Arise!

Inspired by Isaiah 60

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

The 60th chapter of Isaiah has long been a favorite. It speaks of the coming of the Light, of the world as it ought to be: free from darkness, hatred, and violence, and filled with the blessings of God. “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” (Isaiah 60:1) It was in that spirit of celebration, in 2010, that I wrote this song. For me, the world was a more optimistic place. After years of working professionally in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Welcoming Faith Movement, I felt that we finally had momentum on our side. More and more congregations were educating themselves and ultimately declaring themselves to be welcoming to LGBTQ people. And in the secular realm, nationwide marriage equality, something that many of us never dreamed would happen in our lifetimes, seemed to be more and more an inevitability.

 

When I now read this text in 2018, it is acutely tinged with the knowledge that the world is not yet as described in the beautiful and vivid poetry of Isaiah. My world of 2010 feels like a lifetime ago. Hatred, racism, misogyny, sexual assault, Islamophobia, homophobia, bi- and trans-phobia have been legitimatized in our national discourse in staggering and utterly demoralizing ways.

 

So, singing this song in this time is a very different experience for me. It now feels like a call to action. God calling upon all of us to “arise” from our complacency and, with the Light of God as our guide, to bring the not-yet into reality. The world needs us now, more than ever.

 

The extended introduction is a sunrise, as the Light slowly returns to the world. As one by one, the instruments “awaken,” each plays a fragment of melody from each of the twelve songs on this album. These phrases interweave and overlap and tumble upon each other until, in an eruption of life, the sun gloriously appears.

 

REFRAIN

God calls to us, "Arise!"

It's time for us to shine;

the day we feared would never be has come.

No longer in the night,

our dreamings filled with fright,

behold now and rejoice, our light has come!

 

1. Finally the endless night is over,

step out into the day, the gloom is gone.

Feel the warm light as it shines upon you,

reach out, embrace the dawn! Refrain

 

2. This will be a sign to all the nations:

God's reign upon the earth is finally here.

Say goodbye to sorrow and to suffering,

no longer live in fear! Refrain

 

3. Signs of devastation and destruction

will nevermore be seen across the land.

Never will we hear the sounds of violence,

in peace we all will stand. Refrain

 

© 2010 David Lohman Music

2. We’ll Build a World

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

What does it mean to be a community of faith that strives to welcome all? “Come, join us,” is often the message! What is all-too-often implicit in that well-intentioned welcome is, “…and be just like us.” As people of faith, as followers of Jesus, it is so easy to brush aside any differences between individuals or groups of people because, after all, we’re all children of God, right? “Differences shouldn’t matter.” “Love sees no color.” But who gets to say what is different? Well, those in the dominant culture do. And here in America, that usually looks male, white, heterosexual, and cisgendered. So, anything that’s not male and white and straight and cis is either to be ignored or outright unwelcomed. When we do this, we’re asking people to leave important parts of themselves at the door, all in the service of fitting in. “But if you insist on showing us parts of yourself that are different, well, that just makes us uncomfortable, so we’d just prefer you’d leave and find someplace else to be.” Harsh, but it happens all the time.

 

The good news is that God wants us to be whole – as individuals and as the Body of Christ. No one in the Body of Christ can say to another, “I have no need for you.” (I Corinthians 12:21). God’s creation is gloriously diverse. And that is nothing to be feared! Rather, it is something in which to rejoice, for our lives will only be enriched the more we open ourselves to the wondrous diversity of God’s people.

 

1. We are different, you and I,

yet together, fates entwine.

Now we gather in this space,

joined in spirit, filled with grace;

bring your fullness, I'll bring mine,

and together we will shine.

 

REFRAIN

Together, we'll build a world

where there's room for all to be;

a world where we'll live our lives

liberated, strong, and free!

This glorious future –

build it now with me.

 

2. As we labor toward that day,

don't let difference fall away.

Your uniqueness I will see,

and the same, please, see in me.

Thus we're valued, known and named,

honored, cherished, loved and claimed. Refrain

 

3. In this varied universe

all existence so diverse.

Filled with wonder, life so queer,

steeped in mystery, oft unclear.

Yet together, hand in hand,

we'll create that Promised Land. Refrain

 

© 2010, 2014 David Lohman Music

5. I Long to See

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

I wrote this song for the four Sundays in Advent, with each verse dealing with the traditional themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. There are times in our lives when we lose sight of the presence of God, obscured by the chaos around and within us. In those moments when we know that we cannot do it by ourselves, this song reaches out, groping into the darkness, trusting that somewhere, we will find God.

 

REFRAIN

Oh, may my vision arise, I long to see You.

And drop the scales from my eyes, I long to behold

how every moment You're beside me,

and how my life with care you hold.

Oh, may my vision arise, I long to see.

 

1. O, help me stumble into sunshine

when in my darkest hours I grope.

God, in my lonely isolation

I long to see hope. Refrain

 

2. Now all around me cries of conflict,

revenge, and warfare never cease.

God, in the midst of such derangement

I long to see peace. Refrain

 

3. O, how I struggle with my demons

who daily would my bliss destroy.

God, in the depths of my depression

I long to see joy. Refrain

 

4. How many times the plight of others

so far away from me I shove.

God, in this state of self-obsession

I long to see love. Refrain

© 2007, 2014 David Lohman Music

8. Hearts on Fire (On the Road to Emmaus)

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

This song was written for a national convocation of ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation. The biblical text that was to be the focus of our time together was the story, on Easter Sunday, of two disciples encountering Jesus while on the road to Emmaus. “Were not our hearts burning,” they later asked after their encounter? (Luke 24:32) After a lifetime of experiencing this text on Easter, I always thought of it in the context of the joy of that day, never stopping to think about those disciples in their dramatic context. I started by asking why were they leaving Jerusalem? Perhaps where they were headed is less important than from where they were leaving. They were leaving Jerusalem because the mighty Roman Empire had just executed their rabbi, their teacher, their friend. For the Romans, crucifixion was a form of state terrorism, a way to show, in a very public and humiliating way, what happens when anyone dared challenge the power of the state. Jesus and his talk about the “reign of God” had to be stopped. So, the Romans hung him on a cross for all to see; a stark and frightening warning. For these unnamed disciples, their world was shattered, and they didn’t know if Rome’s attention would now be turned to Jesus’ followers. So, in my imagining of this story, these disciples were truly fleeing Jerusalem in fear of their lives. Their hearts were burning long before they ever encountered Jesus. For me, putting the story in its proper context makes for some rich storytelling, downright theatrical. If you listen closely, you’ll hear “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” quoted in the second verse, and a modal “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” in the third.

 

REFRAIN

O God, our hearts are on fire;

our world’s been torn apart.

The future’s dark and uncertain

and we don’t know where to start.

 

1. Our hearts burn with anguish,

they burn hot with tears;

we believed that Christ would set our people free.

But now our dreams, they lie in ashes,

and most of us have fled,

and we're living in fear of what's to be. Refrain

 

2. Our hearts burn with sorrow,

they burn hot with grief;

only days ago, we saw you crucified.

And yet today the tomb was empty,

the stone was rolled away.

Is it true? Can it be? Are you alive? Refrain

 

3. Our hearts burn with questions,

they burn hot with hope

that perhaps it's not the end of all we shared.

Or are we foolish now to listen

to those who say you live?

Is it time to forget we ever cared? Refrain

 

© 2008 David Lohman Music

9. Stand Me on Solid Ground

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

Within a couple of weeks in 2013, a former boyfriend had committed suicide and my best friend was diagnosed with cancer. I felt lost and emotionally adrift. During one particularly bad night when I couldn’t sleep, I felt the need to get on paper what I was feeling. I turned on the light, found the back of a piece of paper on which to write, and poured forth my grief and anger and fear. But curiously, even as the words came, they didn’t feel like simple words, but rather lyrics. I knew, as I was writing them down, that I was going to have to set them to music.

 

In orchestrating this song, I tried to bring the emotional journey to life, this experience of feeling as though my house we built on ever-shifting sand (Matthew 7:24–27). From the beginning, the piano and viola are in constant motion. The cello tries to provide grounding with its long whole notes, but it quickly gets obscured by the ever-moving higher strings. With a sense of quiet, anxious desperation, I’m tossed in waves of anger, lament, doubt, faith, confusion, and confession. But there is never a moment of surrender, for I’m always reaching out for something solid that I know is there. In the instrumental interlude, the storm increases, as harmonically we travel further and further away from the song’s original key; the voice of the oboe slowly, achingly reaching higher and higher for help; and until suddenly, the motion of the waves cease. Exhausted, I once again ask for help. And it is then, finally, that a hand gently cradles me, a reassuring voice (the violin) whispers in my ear, and my prayers are answered.

 

1. Stand me on solid ground,

the sands are shifting as I'm tossed around.

I try to stand but fail, my balance gone,

my courage lost, my fears unbound.

And all my life I've simply been too proud, 

conceal my weakness, never cry aloud.

Maintain that mask of strength, can't do it now;

"Stand me," I pray, "on solid ground."

 

2. The past is filled with pain;

despite my best, the memories remain.

The present cursed with things I can't explain,

each day brings just more loss and change.

Hope in the future, I just cannot feign,

and newfound joy’s a thing I can't attain.

And yet, somehow my prayers can't be in vain;

"Stand me," I pray, "on solid ground."

 

3. Stand me on solid ground,

the sands are shifting as I'm tossed around.

I try to stand but fail, my balance gone,

my courage lost, my fears unbound.

Yet, even as my life's turned upside down,

a gentle hand holds me, I will not drown.

a still, small voice assures me I am found,

"Stand me," I pray, "on solid ground.

Stand me, safe and sound, on solid ground."

 

© 2013 David Lohman Music

12. BONUS TRACK: For All the Children

Catholics for Marriage Equality Video Soundtrack

Words and Music by David Lohman

 

In 2012, Catholics for Marriage Equality used this song to create a video for Minnesota’s ultimately-successful marriage equality campaign. The filming of that video, on a frigid winter day, in a church warmed by the passion of Catholics and friends raising their voices in song, remains one of my life’s most fulfilling moments. That video has gone on to be viewed tens of thousands of times.

 

For lyrics, see notes for Track 3.

Liner Notes & Lyrics