Who'd Have Thought the Lord Almighty

Feel free to turn off the background noise (click on browser's "stop" button); it's intended only to help you get an idea of how the tune goes — it's not the style or volume of sound I would choose as accompaniment to the text.
Apologia pro Cantico Suo: I wrote this hymn (or "sacred ballad") in memory of Jesus female ancestors, and especially the five mentioned in the genealogy in Matthew 1 (the competing/complementary genealogy in Luke ignores women's part in the lineage entirely; Matthew singles out 5 -- out of 42 -- for special mention, and interestingly they are all in some way (sexually or ethnically or both) scandalous. The song is applied as follows: first you preach briefly on the life and scandalousness of Tamar (Genesis 38: impersonates prostitute in order to get her father-in-law to impregnate her), then sing v. 1; then tell about Rahab (Joshua 2: traitor to her country, Jericho; bordellista), and sing v.2; then Ruth (Genesis 19 emphasis: illegal alien descended from the incestuous survivors of Sodom), and sing v. 3; then Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), and sing v. 4; then Mary (referring to the fact that her reputation in Matthew's day was not, at least outside the church, one of immaculate virginity; the word on the street was, it was a Roman soldier) and sing v. 5. Then a little homily on the moral of this story, if you call this "moral" ;-), with vv. 6-8 following as a "Reprise and Conclusion". I have presented it twice in worship, once at a retirement center near my church, and one at our evening service. It was well received. My apologies to any whom its premise or manner may offend.

(I wrote the above note to accompany the text
when I posted it on the Mudcat Café,
a website devoted to folk music and blues.)

Who'd Have Thought the Lord Almighty

Leland Bryant Ross

(1: Tamar)

Who'd have thought the Lord Almighty
from all women on the earth
Would have chosen Tamar the wily
to prepare for Jesus' birth?
But he chose her, and we laud her
for her chutzpah and her brains,
In gratitude we applaud her:
Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!

(2: Rahab)

Who would dream the God of Moses,
and of Joshua son of Nun,
Would elect a Jericho harlot —
and a traitor — for his Son
To descend from? Yet he picked her!
Praise the wisdom of his choice:
Hallelujah! God is with us!
Let us marvel and rejoice!

(3: Ruth)

Who'd imagine, of all nations,
God would call on Moab's aid
To advance the cause of salvation?
that a needed role played
A widowed exile sprung from Sodom
— and from incest — that her part
Would be great-grandmother, in Israel,
of a man after God's own heart?

(4: Bathsheba)

Who would guess that when, in wartime,
on her roof Bathsheba lay
And occasioned maybe the worst crime
in the annals of her day,
God, the righteous Lord of Zion
through that lust would vict'ry win,
From their union bringing a scion
who'd annihilate all sin.

(5: Mary)

Who'd suppose a country girl
such as Mary would attract
The Creator of the whole world?
But she did, and that's a fact.
She conceived and bore a child
by the Spirit of the Lord —
Our Redeemer, "meek and mild",
sharper than a two-edged sword!

(6-8: Reprise)

Who'd believe that these five ladies,
and so many nameless more,
In God's great assault upon Hades
would be called and chosen for
The advancement to perfection
of the Lord's ongoing plan
By a process of election
to bring forth the Son of Man?

Mudstained cloth and damaged vessels
are the means our Lord has used,
Yet our sense of pride still wrestles
with the meaning of these truths:
Not the holy and the haughty,
but the humble and the flawed —
Be they prostitutes or monarchs —
are the forebears of our God.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
hallelujah, hallelu!
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
hallelujah, hallelu-hu-hu!
So we sing their praises gladly,
named and nameless, brash and shy,
For the offspring of their body
is the Apple of God's eye!

Tune: CHEATING GAME, Leland Bryant Ross, © 1996 — MIDI

Text: Leland Bryant Ross (Dec. 7, 1996)