Haitian Lament

8 March 2010

For the most part, lament is lost within current Christian worship. There are joyful praise songs and songs based out of more cheerful portions of scripture, but if a song does venture into lament territory, it makes a turn into a trite, happy message before the end. There are some songs of lament out there, but generally, the worship landscape is void of this type of song.

As I read the Psalms, I encounter songs of lament that don’t, as we say, resolve. They are raw, unbridled pleas for help from a God who seems to have abandoned or forgotten the writer and his people. See Psalms 44, 74, 123 and 129 for examples. There is a current of hope and trust in God that runs through these Psalms, but the writer stays in a spirit of lament. Apparently the sons of Korah didn’t have an AR guy looking over their shoulder telling them they’d never get radio play with that sad sack stuff.

I wrote this song last week in response to an image in the amazing Jeremy Cowart’s current photographic essay called Voices of Haiti. Jeremy is posting a photo a day from his recent trip to Haiti to raise awareness and money for A Home in Haiti which is working to purchase tents for the many thousand of people left homeless after the January 12 earthquake.

This image from Day 2 really struck me. This woman standing with her young son in a makeshift tent told Jeremy, “There is no worse feeling in the world, as a mother, than to be unable to properly take care of your child.” In English, the sign she’s holding reads, “God do not abandon your children.”

As soon as I read it, my heart ached and the line began to play in my head. I wrote down some quick verse but didn’t get to work on it until later that night. Once I did, the music and words just came together. I added a second verse the following morning and a third and final verse yesterday. I’m sharing it here for you to ponder. I hope to post audio to the music page in the next week sometime. In the meantime, dwell in the words…

Haitian Lament

O God, do not abandon your children.
Remember us in our affliction.
Turn your face to us.
We are tired and worn down.
Turn your face to us.
We are at the end of hope.

How long, O Lord, will you forget us?
How long will you leave us like this?
We are made in your image.
Your breath breathes within us.
We are crushed into dust.
Move yourself to rescue us.

O God, do not abandon your children.
O God, do not abandon your children.
In the midst of this darkness,
we will wait for the daylight.
In the depth of our suffering,
We will hope in you yet.

© 2010 David Peck and G.L. Baldman Media. All rights reserved.

Now go check out Voices of Haiti: A Daily Photo Essay by Jeremy Cowart.