Some Sense of Reaching CD Notes

‘Some Sense of Reaching’ was recorded some years ago with a band. It is available through Amazon U.K. Or by contacting Stuart directly. The song notes, along with links to samples, are below.

Most of the material on this recording is self-written, though some of the songs are reworkings of ancient poems and stories from across the world. Don’t Blush, for example, is an amalgamation of two Japanese love poems written sometime between 794 and ­1185 by Lady Izumi Shikibu. How The Nightingale Lies is an example of a song from the European ‘dawn song’ tradition, where lovers express dismay at the on-coming morning. There is some speculation that such songs were extensions of the theme of Soloman’s Songs, whose biblical narrative lies behind the images in the song Lebanon. Lay Her Down is an attempt to put into song a classic Buddhist story which is about both about letting go and those occasions when moral judgment takes precedence over structures of law. Teach Us is my reworking of the famous Ute Indian poem extolling us to recognise the wisdom inherent in nature and the transience of human existence. Song of Love is a celebration of how songs (and indeed any form of artistic expression) reflect the wonderfully diverse nature of the personalities and concerns of their creators: indeed, this is the case in my own songs which invariably hint at my liberal religious outlook. All These Ways, Heart’s Repose and Tim’s Song are cases in point. The latter of these songs is dedicated to the greatly missed Tim Firth, a theologian friend who once light-heartedly commented to his walking companion, Father Rags, that one of the many true paths to God is the South Down’s Way! The South Downs were the inspiration behind Work To Be Done, which was written trying to encapsulate something of the pastoral feel of some of the old Sussex folk songs. Said the Pen is an attempt to write an allegorical narrative about interdependence and Angel’s Wings and Touch of a Song are, in their different ways, songs about love.


Song of Love

Some sing for the day dawning, some sing for the dusk

Some sing for joyous days some sing when the day gets tough

Some sing for greeting hands, some when they depart

A song of love will soar above then swoop and sear its way on to the heart

Some sing for laughter and some sing for gravitas

Some sing for moments and some sing for bonds that last

Some sing for nonchalance and some make song their art

A song of love will soar above then swoop and sear its way on to the heart

Some sing for those who have and those who have nothing

Some sing for oppression and some sing ‘Let freedom ring’

Some sing towards the light and some towards the dark

A song of love will soar above then swoop and sear its way on to the heart

Some sing with confidence, some will hesitate

Some sing authenticity, some serve to imitate

Some shout a rooftop love, some a hushed remark

A song of love will soar above then swoop and sear its way on to the heart


All these ways to be saved

 Touch of a lover skin-on-skin,

Deep in the heart where the mystery begins each day.

Family and friends watching over me,

We pray for one another like the tidal sea each day.

All these ways to be saved.

 Smile of a baby, children’s eyes,

Gentleness of aging, growing wiser each day.

Vastness, space, tiny particles,

Kaleidoscope of intellect, simple joys each day.

All these ways to be saved.

 Movement of tomorrow, traditions roar,

Energy boundless, beauty of a pause each day,

Utter of a prophet, a new way of seeing,

Transformation of a life, existing into being each day,

All these ways to be saved.



I sense your skin

Dawn is in your glance

Drink of morning fruit

Tremble as we dance

You were lost in my dream

I searched every street

And every alleyway

Until my love was reached

And now the rains have gone

And our clothes hold the

Scent of Lebanon

Dark as the desert

There on grass bed

Your hair falls like jewels

Myrrh on your breasts

Cover me in kisses

Morning scarlet lips

Let me taste the spice of wine

Let me savour every sip.


Work to be done

Night’s retreating embers fade at dawn

Dancing light skips over swaying corn

The yawning and the bleary eyed step

Everything awakening

 Hone up the sickle and the scythe

There’s work to be done, work to be done

May the rolling seasons be your guide

There’s work to be done, this light

 Across brow drawn midday cotton sleeves

Dust of corn in sharp September breeze

Let the songbirds have their say

Soon they‘ll be in flight

Escaping winter nights

 Sound of leather, metal, wood and stone

Signalling the heart’s calling for home….



Touch of a song

Let my hands explore the contours of your face

Let deliberation be as powerful as pace

Words rise with melody to meet us, fade, then gone

And somewhere in the space between us

Lies the touch of a song

In this perfection all my senses all make sense

How do I capture that in a past or present tense?

Words rise with melody to meet us, fade, then gone

And somewhere in the space between us

Lies the touch of a song

Let me taste the burgundy of words upon your breath

Drown me in your vision, drown me in your preciousness

Let this religion rage like martyrs with a quest

Come the morning, come rest


The heart’s repose

Did you ever feel something of a light upon you

Bathing you in something beyond,

Left breathless, breathless as the mystery grows.

Did you ever feel something of a truth upon

With words unframed by symposium,

Escaping any eloquence of prose

Falling deeply, into the heart’s repose.

Did you ever feel something of love upon

Through brokenness an overcoming

Reaching, sense of where forgiveness flows.

Did you ever feel something of a breath upon

Resolving itself into a song that echoed,

Echoed in the deep known,


Lay her down (Based on a traditional Buddhist story)

We came across the water,

Banks had broken wide,

Her whispered on the wind,

Geese echoed her cries,

By the deep waterside.

She struck with her beauty,

Casting us a look,

She pointed, said:

“My home is there, I need to cross the brook,”

By the deep waterside.

There was I about to say,

“We’re not allowed to touch,”

Breaking every rule I knew,

My master swept her up,

By the deep waterside.

Carried her across the water,

Through the wind and wet,

My anger was fermenting,

A broken precept,

By the deep waterside.

Set her down by her doorstep,

Later, every mile,

The anger rushed through me,

He just smiled,

By the deep waterside.

Lay her down brother let her go,

Lay her down brother let her go,

It’s a burden that isn’t yours to hold,

Lay her down.

He said “Let go of your judgment

Let go of your frown

Be the master of the law

You’ve got it upside down.”

By the deep waterside

“Love before all other

If the motivation’s sound

Do as I did long ago

Lay the lady down.”

By the deep waterside

Lay her down brother let her go

Lay her down brother let her go

It’s a burden that isn’t yours to hold

Lay her down.


 Teach us

 Teach us stillness as the grass is stilled by sun,

Teach us to suffer like the memory of the stone.

Teach us caring as the old secure their young,

Teach us courage as the tree that stands alone.

We are the buffalo breath rising,

The firefly, here, gone again,

The melting snow forgets itself,

In the warmth of weeping rain


Teach us limits as the insect on the ground

Teach us freedom through the Eagles in the clouds.

Resignation as the Autumn leaves descend

Rejuvenation as the sun rises again.

Adapted from the Ute Indian Prayer, North America.


How the nightingale lies  (adapted from the anon. French poem ‘Dawn Song’)

 We stayed all night in the wood,

We played together until the dawn,

And when the nightingale sang

It’s time to go,

My lover cried, “No, no, no…

 …it’s not day yet,

And your body

Lies well in my eyes,

And how the nightingale lies.”

 When she drew close my heart sang,

And we kissed many times,

And how we wished the night,

Would last a thousand moons,

But the morning came too soon.


Said the pen

Said the pen to the instrument with strings

Said the pen ‘I wish that I could sing

With soaring notes that sound so pure

That resonate and ring’

Said the pen to the instrument with strings

Said the instrument, ‘My fate is not my choice

I’ve fret-board notes but I wish I had a voice

Words that are sung in harmony

Make my heart rejoice’

Said the instrument, ‘I wish I had a voice’

Said the voice, ‘I have all I need but one.’

Said the voice: ‘I need imagination.

Though bound by range

It’s ideas that mark my creations.’

Said the voice, ‘I need imagination.’

Said imagination fervently

Said imagination, ‘I need a memory

For all my ideas slip away

Nothing seems to stay each day

Said imagination, ‘I need a memory.’

Said the memory, ‘I’m going to need some help.

I can’t recall all these ideas myself

I need imagination, strings, a voice

And to remember again…’

Said the memory, ‘I’m going to need a pen.’


Don’t blush (adapted from Izumi Shikibu)

I picked azalea I took them home

I picked azalea thinking of our episodes

And when I think about the crimson dye

I see the colour of my lover’s robe

Don’t blush

Some will guess

We slept

Beneath the folds

Of your crimson robe

Don’t blush

Only the pillow got closer to your cheek

Only the pillow the knows and she won’t speak

So don’t be tempted to recite

The details of our sleepless night