Jesus the carpenter, hanging on Calvary
Source: Singing the Faith: 275
Words: Marjorie Dobson
Music: “King’s Cross” by Martin V. Clarke
Marjorie Dobson’s hymn is as much about God’s incarnation in Jesus as it is about his crucifixion. She uses the idea of making things with wood as a metaphor for Christ’s creative ministry (“working with wood till your task was complete”) as well as a way of underlining his fundamental humanity. Even Jesus’ healing hands are imagined as “rough” and callused from working in his father’s carpentry workshop (verse 2).
See also Marjorie’s “Birth brings a promise of new life awaking” (StF 226), another meditation on the life of the incarnate God in which Marjorie imagines Jesus’ growth from childhood – “translating God from the mystery of ages, / rooting our faith by his presence on earth”.
Also see Events in Jesus’ life (#2 in in our series about Jesus’ ministry as reflected in hymns).
At first hearing, Martin Clarke’s tune “King’s Cross” is surprisingly jaunty for a hymn that reflects on Jesus’ crucifixion. (The text was originally written with the folk song “Blow the wind southerly” in mind.) However, “King’s Cross” (like that of “You shall go out with joy”, StF 487) has a hint of Hebrew rhythm and melody about it that reinforces Marjorie’s focus on a life lived by a Jewish man amongst Jewish people.
Martin himself says that the idea of Hebrew melody was not in his mind when writing the tune. He says: “I wanted to combine a minor key with a sense of purpose as the text reflects on both the crucifixion and Jesus’ work and ministry in the verses. I read the text as rather ballad-like in the way it tells a story and I wanted a tune that flowed easily to match that.”
The name “King’s Cross” is appropriate to the words; it also contains a little personal humour as it was named for the station in London to which Martin and Marjorie travelled regularly on their way to meetings of the Methodist Music Resource Group that compiled Singing the Faith.