I want to love this song. Really, I do.
It’s certainly a popular one that lots of people know. And here’s the thing: This song should be amazing and inspiring and strong – and I suspect in its original form, as crafted by Carolyn McDade herself, it was. I imagine that on guitar, it has a driving rhythm, and that the lyrics tumble forth in a ragged, folky, Dylanesque manner. I imagine selecting this for the hymnal was a no brainer. The words are tremendous, and the tune is easy to pick up.
But it has sadly become a sing-songy, rather long and annoying piece of music that many of us use sparingly because we fear a revolt.
And so I am looking for a little help – to find versions that capture what I suspect is a less pedestrian and more inspiring, less ooompa and more driving. Because that is what this lyric – inspired by two kickass prophets (Isaiah and Amos) requires. This isn’t “oh, look, nice aspirations,” this is “remember Noah’s flood? Ain’t got nothing on this justice we’re bringin’ down.” This isn’t a pop song, this is King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
We’ll build a land where we bind up the broken.
We’ll build a land where the captives go free,
where the oil of gladness dissolves all mourning.
Oh, we’ll build a promised land that can be.
Come build a land where sisters and brothers,
anointed by God, may then create peace:
where justice shall roll down like waters,
and peace like an ever flowing stream.
We’ll build a land where we bring the good tidings
to all the afflicted and all those who mourn.
And we’ll give them garlands instead of ashes.
Oh, we’ll build a land where peace is born.
We’ll be a land building up ancient cities,
raising up devastations from old;
restoring ruins of generations.
Oh, we’ll build a land of people so bold.
Come, build a land where the mantles of praises
resound from spirits once faint and once weak;
where like oaks of righteousness stand her people.
Oh, come build the land, my people we seek.
So can someone help me out with an arrangement that doesn’t make me think we’re singing a toothless campfire song?