Just in time for Joseph’s story this Sunday in Vinebranch, I’m posting this lovely song by a favorite band whose name I’m reluctant to name on a church-related blog—the New Pornographers. They’re not pornographic at all! Apparently it’s a reference to what Jerry Lee Lewis’s cousin Jimmy Swaggart called rock and roll, back when it was a new and scary thing.
One thing I like about the song is the way it humanizes Joseph’s plight: “Rumors are flying all over Galilee these days/ And, baby, I’m trying to be cool.” I know it’s not realistic (the language makes Galilee seem just like present-day North America) or even biblically accurate, but it works for me. It captures some of the hurt, anger, and jealousy that Joseph must have felt—at least before the angel came to him in his dream. Here’s the YouTube clip. (The band is Canadian, but one of the lovely female harmony vocals belongs to American Neko Case. I’d pay to hear her sing the phonebook.)
You may be wondering, “Why don’t we do this wonderful song in Vinebranch? After all, we don’t have any other songs about Joseph to sing.” It’s tempting, but I wouldn’t perform the song in church because of the line in which Joseph asks, “Mary, is he mine?” The question is ambiguous, but it implies that Joseph has already slept with Mary and hopes that he is the father. (But if that were the case, why would Joseph feel such jealousy to begin with? Like I said, it’s ambiguous.)
Here’s how one church band handled the problem: They have Joseph asking, “Mary, is he divine?” That’s not bad. Regardless, this is a good performance.