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Into the Light

by Alex MacDonald

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1.
The opium of the people The opium of the people, the opium of the people The opium of the people, of the people The sigh of the oppressed, the heart of a heartless world The soul of soulless circumstance, the halo of your tears The abolition of religion is the call for happiness Give up all your illusions that have bound you down the years The opium of the people, the opium of the people The opium of the people, of the people And the people bowed to idols that were made of blood and steel The icons of their leaders took the place of Jesus Christ All animals are equal but there’re some more equal ones And all things lose their value when truth is sacrificed The opium of the people, the opium of the people The opium of the people, of the people But about the real opium a brave man told the truth A belief in nothing after death and no justice done Our betrayals, greed and cowardice are never to be judged The politics of power come from the barrel of a gun The opium of the people, the opium of the people The opium of the people, of the people But still the world continues in insanity and fear Where self-appointed elites dictate what the people must believe When power is truth and opinion law, they trample down the weak They fear no retribution as their web of lies they weave The opium of the people, the opium of the people The opium of the people, of the people And over the horizon at the very gates of dawn The trumpeter stands ready to announce the ruthless day But still the world’s rejected holds back the towering threat His wounded hands contain the cure, the truth, the life, the way The opium of the people, the opium of the people The opium of the people, of the people © Alex J MacDonald 2017
2.
Kildonan Strath Two thousand years you sheltered the people of the North The stone for their tall towers, the harvests of the earth Neither Rome nor Vikings could remove them from the soil Winter snow and summer rain could not frustrate their toil A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath There Donan’s church was founded with light from the Promised Land And in the love of Christ the people learned to stand The raiders from the sea were mingled there in time There were rivers to cross and mountains to climb A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath In Seventeen Forty-Five, there were two hundred men Who were listed to bear arms by the Earl of Sutherland’s pen To defend Crown and country from the Young Pretender’s threat But 70 years later the Crown forgot its debt A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath For now the land lies empty, the people scattered wide The wind of changes blew across both time and tide The homes are tumbled ruins, the rigs are swallowed up And the disinherited still drink the bitter cup A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath Where people lived in plenty in the hollow of the hills All now lie in ruins, the houses and the mills The churches and the graveyards, the scenes of death and life All vanished from the landscape, its heart cut with a knife A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath Old soldiers, teachers, tailors, men of faith and men of war Cast adrift upon the world, what was any of it for? Schemes and dreams of wealthy men, the land a wilderness Men and women, children too, homeless in distress A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath Like leaves at the end of autumn they were scattered in the wind Despised and rejected as if they were the ones who sinned Some crossed the wild Atlantic to the frozen Hudson Bay Some would not forsake the land, on the rocky coast they’d stay A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath You talk of conservation and the last great wilderness When the land that you’re conserving was created by duress It’s a creature of two hundred years of failure and misdeed Two thousand years of culture destroyed by power and greed A wild wind is blowing through Kildonan Strath A wild wind is blowing through the ruins and the wrath © Alex J MacDonald 2017
3.
The Lion of Donegal James Duffy was his name, he was born in ’89 Where the wilds of Donegal tell a story so divine Brought up in Letterkenny, he fished the briny tide Then he left for Glasgow and the shipyards of the Clyde He joined the British Army – Inniskilling Fusiliers At Gallipoli and Salonika he overcame his fears His task to rescue wounded men from out of living hell His war was spent in saving life from the bullet and the shell His clan badge was the lion, shining like the sun And the lion was the symbol on the medal that he won To Egypt and to Palestine his regiment was sent To stop the Ottoman Army was their resolute intent To the north-west of Jerusalem, the hill Kereina Peak Was the place where Private Duffy won his honour so unique While under fierce machine gun fire, he went out alone To rescue wounded comrades with courage rarely shown His bandages torn by bullets, one went through his shirt Some men died in his arms as he brought back the badly hurt His clan badge was the lion, shining like the sun And the lion was the symbol on the medal that he won Before the war was ended, he was given his VC By the King in Buckingham Palace for everyone to see A country fit for heroes was the promise that was made But when the heroes came back home, the debt was left unpaid Disabled by malaria, and work was hard to find With a wife and growing family, life was a struggle and a grind And for some in Ireland, he was a traitor to their cause For he’d fought for the British Army and he obeyed their laws But his clan badge was the lion, shining like the sun And the lion was the symbol on the medal that he won But as the years passed on, he was held in great respect By the whole community, and every creed and sect He was a quiet and humble man, played down his valiant act He just said he’d saved two men while shells around him cracked He refused to sell his medal, even when times were hard The memory of his comrades he held in high regard And the message on his gravestone speaks of grace untold “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on his soul” His clan badge was the lion, shining like the sun And the lion was the symbol on the medal that he won © Alex J MacDonald 2017
4.
No forgiveness Forgiveness is a concept that you find is hard to bear You think that you don’t need it, so you say it isn’t fair That others should expect from you what you don’t ask from them Instead they’ll reap bad karma and you blame and you condemn There’s no forgiveness, no forgiveness No forgiveness with you A wise man said forgiveness meets the child’s bright dream What’s broken is made whole again, what’s soiled is again made clean In Africa they said without forgiveness there’s no peace No reconciliation there, no hope that war will cease But there’s no forgiveness, no forgiveness No forgiveness with you A famous Vietnam photograph – young girl is badly burned She’s running screaming naked down the years; what have we learned? She says that napalm’s powerful, but forgiveness greater still If that little girl can do it, how can you not find the will? But there’s no forgiveness, no forgiveness No forgiveness with you The day will come when all your sins will rise as dark as night And on that day you’ll wish they could be covered from God’s sight Then you will cry, “Forgive me!” as the hour is getting late I pray these words you’ll never hear and this won’t be your fate: There’s no forgiveness, no forgiveness No forgiveness for you © Alex J MacDonald 2017
5.
Eternity 06:42
Eternity They say that Arthur Stace was born on the seedy side of town His parents both were drunkards, the whole family was going down But he stole milk from people’s doorsteps just to stay alive His food he found in rubbish bins, or he never would survive He hardly went to school at all, could barely read or write He grew up hard and tough, but only five foot three in height At fourteen he went down the mine, came out as black as coal First pay cheque just drank the lot, and soon lost all control In Surry Hills a whorehouse he supplied with rum and gin A lookout cockatoo for gambling schools and dens of sin And eternity was waiting and what would be would be But the odds were stacked in favour of a lost eternity In Nineteen-fourteen war broke out and he wanted to do his bit But his country didn’t want him – too small and judged not fit But the slaughter at Gallipoli reduced the volunteers So Arthur now was tall enough for the war’s two further years He joined the 19th Battalion and was on his way to France As a stretcher-bearer there he just had to take his chance Day after day he carried back the shattered and the dead And every day he faced the fact it might be him instead A gas-shell burst beside him in Nineteen-seventeen The poppies were no longer red, the fields no longer green And eternity was waiting and what would be would be But the odds were stacked in favour of a lost eternity He went home to Australia, shell-shocked, half-blind and gassed He went back to his old drinking and he spiralled down real fast From beer to gin to rum to wine, he ended up on meth From courthouse to asylum he was just one step from death He was stinking, dirty, wretched, poor – just wanted a night in jail The sergeant said he stank too much, told him to hit the trail Out on the street again, some men were walking up Broadway St Barney’s Church served food and tea, you didn’t have to pay ‘Who are these guys?’ poor Arthur asked the hoodlum next to him ‘I reckon they be Christian folk’ he answered looking grim And eternity was waiting to see a man set free All bets were off that gambled on a lost eternity ‘Well, look at them and look at us! I want what they’ve all got’ In Victoria Park along the road, he struck while the iron was hot He got down on his knees and prayed for Christ to fill his heart And in that very moment Christ gave him a brand new start From that time on he never touched another drop of drink He worked and gained his self-respect, he turned back from the brink He heard the Reverend Ridley preach – ‘Eternity’ he said ‘I want to shout eternity, and wake the living dead!” His words they rang in Arthur’s brain as he left the church that day Eternity, Eternity, was all that he could say And eternity was waiting for a city to be free All bets were off that gambled on a lost eternity Then tears ran down the wee man’s face as he felt the call of God To warn the lost of Sydney on the very streets they trod ‘Eternity’ - he wrote the word about two foot wide With a piece of chalk in copperplate as tears of love he cried He’d never had much schooling, he could hardly write at all But he could write Eternity like the writing on the wall From that day on he trudged the streets in the early morning dawn And every hundred yards or so Eternity was drawn For over thirty years he wrote and half a million times To warn the day of reckoning for all our sins and crimes And eternity is waiting to see a world set free Don’t bet against the fearful fate of a lost eternity And the people they all wondered who was the writer of the word Some were touched and some were moved and some thought it absurd Eventually it was revealed that Arthur was the man But he just carried on his work just like when he began In Ninteen-sixty-seven Arthur Stace was dead and gone But the eternal legacy he left goes on and on In Sydney Square his word stands clear in aluminium bright And the first word of the millennium was Eternity that night But Eternity is coming as quick and sure as death As a small man did remind us all until his final breath And eternity is waiting for them and you and me Don’t bet against the fearful fate of a lost eternity © Alex J MacDonald 2017
6.
Light from the East Eastern man came to the west, Driven by a loving quest Far across the world he came, Not for fortune and not for fame But to bring back words of light, Working hard both day and night Over land and sea he crossed, To the land that now is lost Small man not too proud to bow, A lonely furrow to plough Short man with the widest smile, He’d go the second mile He died on the darkest day, Far from home he passed away But he’s at the Lamb’s great feast; He brought us light from the east Forty days of prayer to start, Love for Scotland filled his heart Praying life for dying lands, He was lifting up his hands But two days later he’s called home, To receive the Lord’s shalom So who now will intercede? Whose the burden now to plead? Small man not too proud to bow, A lonely furrow to plough Short man with the widest smile, He’d go the second mile He died on the darkest day, Far from home he passed away But he’s at the Lamb’s great feast; He brought us light from the east © Alex J MacDonald 2017
7.
The lost road I was climbing the hill past the old waterfall I was doubting if I might be right after all For everyone else said my friend must be wrong But I had supported his cause all along It was the month of November and late in the day But I wandered uphill trying to find the right way As I climbed further up by the gully and trees I considered the question with growing unease How could they be all wrong and I be all right? How could I carry on and continue the fight? I climbed further up with my eyes to the ground I was hardly aware of what else was around I stumbled upon what I thought was a track It was late in the day, I should really turn back But the thoughts in my head would give me no rest So I trudged up the track to decide what was best It came into my mind: Was I on the right road? Was this really a path? And then my pace slowed For gradually my track seemed to merge with the stream It wasn’t a path, it was only a dream Should I just recognise that this was a dead end? There was nothing more I could do for my friend? But something inside me refused to be beat I asked God show me if I faced defeat And just at that moment I was shocked and surprised The path had turned green, no longer disguised All grassy and smooth it crossed over the burn No doubt in my mind which way I should turn I ran up that track to the top of the hill And as soon as I reached there, I felt a strange thrill The mountains lay dark to the north and the west But the day’s dying glories made sure I was blessed The sun was just setting, transforming the skies The glories of heaven amazing my eyes My heart overflowed with thanks to the One Who ruled over people, the earth and the sun I was on the right road, there was no further doubt A complete transformation from when I wandered out There were troubles a-plenty I had to pass through But the assurance of grace they could never undo © Alex J MacDonald 2017
8.
Masters of the universe You’re the masters of the universe; you’re the rulers of the skies For the good of all the earth, you’re so helpful and so wise While people die in Syria, in Yemen and Myanmar You look for life outside this world, on a planet or a star On Mars you look for microbes to confirm your pet belief While real germs on earth bring misery and grief You’re the masters of the universe; you’re the rulers of the skies For the good of all the earth, you’re so helpful and so wise You pour billions into empty space while the world is full of need And billions more in armaments for human power and greed You protect the tusks of elephants and the offspring of the whale While you kill unborn children, so helpless and so frail You’re the masters of the universe, the rulers of the earth You know the price of everything, but never what it’s worth On immigrants and refugees you blame your country’s woes While you celebrate the birth of One who was wrapped in swaddling clothes Who was laid in a cattle trough, for they had no room for him And a refugee in Egypt on a murderous tyrant’s whim You’re the masters of the universe, the captains of your souls But you never ask yourselves for whom the bell tolls You talk of child protection, but it doesn’t really fit When you say to every child she can be him or her or it It’s best that every child should have a father and a mother But your shibboleths ensure it can be either/or, or other You’re the masters of the universe, the agents of doublethink You can’t tolerate the rebels and those who’re out of sync We’ve got freedom of speech just as long as we agree with you You’re neutral and objective, you want your cake and eat it too You say that faith’s irrational, with no evidence or proof But you’ve got faith in yourself, you think you’re bulletproof You’re the masters of the universe, the people’s thought police Till everyone is brainwashed, your work will never cease You say my thoughts are just produced by atoms in my brain And so there’s no reason to believe what I maintain But if that’s the case, then your idea originates just the same So no reason to believe it; I’m free from your little game You’re the masters of the universe, the scientists of illusion You’re the prophets of future and the makers of confusion © Alex J MacDonald 2017
9.
The twilight of the gods Finn left his northern home, when he was just eighteen A student he would be, it was his only dream One gift his mother gave, a book both old and black You know what’s right she said, just never you turn back Inside she wrote the words he read as words of truth Remember your Creator in the days of youth He saw his home grow small in the mirror of the car The people left behind who knew that he’d go far But he couldn’t see the sky in the grey and dirty town The bright lights of the city were doomed to drag him down It was there he met Suzanne, she was lovely, dark and sweet They never were apart, with her he felt complete She knew that he was gentle and loving, strong and kind But a dark side to his soul would leave her far behind Philosophy and science meant that God was dead For so their tutor taught them, and this is what he said: It’s the twilight of the gods, as Friedrich Nietzsche said The strong will rule the weak, divinity is dead Belief in God’s a drug, as Marx and Engels said You are what you produce, humanity is dead Survival of the fittest, is what Charles Darwin said We’re all just selfish genes, and charity is dead If God does not exist, as Dostoyevsky said Then everything’s allowed, morality is dead It was a revelation, and no matter how he fought It wormed its way inside him and captured every thought At first it opened doors and made him bold and free He could hold his drink when others could barely see But soon a cruel streak developed in his soul An arrogance and pride began to take its toll He deeply hurt Suzanne, refused to take the blame Sunk down into a spiral of hopelessness and shame Suzanne, she needed comfort and their tutor was on hand Sophisticated, suave, and although she hadn’t planned To get involved with him, it happened all the same It didn’t really matter, ’cos life was just a game One night they held a party and things were going well Till Finn came on the scene; he looked as mean as hell The tutor then discovered just what his teaching meant The wind was knocked clean out of him, and down he went It’s the twilight of the gods, as Friedrich Nietzsche said The strong will rule the weak, divinity is dead Belief in God’s a drug, as Marx and Engels said You are what you produce, humanity is dead Survival of the fittest, is what Charles Darwin said We’re all just selfish genes, and charity is dead If God does not exist, as Dostoyevsky said Then everything’s allowed, morality is dead Before anyone can move, Finn drags him to the stair Suzanne she screams, “Please stop! Don’t hurt him. I’m so scared” Some guys leap into action, but then they stand appalled “Get back”, says Finn, “unless… you want to see him fall” He held his rival’s head far out over the rail “For God’s sake, Finn!” he screamed, his face was deathly pale “But God does not exist, so nothing is a sin But you’ll say anything just to save your skin” Suzanne she was in tears as she pleaded for Finn to stop “This is all so wrong; you’re not going to let him drop” “But right and wrong are old; we’re younger than that now We make the rules we want, there is no sacred cow” “O Finn, it’s just a game, philosophy’s not real Everything is not allowed”, she made her last appeal “So maybe God exists” he said and slowly turned away He stumbled down the stairs, and took the narrow way It’s the twilight of the gods, as Friedrich Nietzsche said The strong will rule the weak, divinity is dead Belief in God’s a drug, as Marx and Engels said You are what you produce, humanity is dead Survival of the fittest, is what Charles Darwin said We’re all just selfish genes, and charity is dead If God does not exist, as Dostoyevsky said Then everything’s allowed, morality is dead © Alex J MacDonald 2017
10.
Into the light You wandered the hills and you reached for the skies You loved the high places where the eagle flies You ran from the school, the restrictions and law You looked down on the world with wonder and awe Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light As a boy you surely set the heather on fire But God lit a fire that would burn even higher The fire and the wind of the Spirit of Life He led you from darkness through sneering and strife Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light The school and the college were never for you Algebra and Latin - you hadn’t a clue But a college of life was the garage in Kyle And its education proved really worthwhile Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Your love of cars started at a very young age But wrecking a Buick was only a stage You drove them, you fixed them, you sold them near and far There wasn’t a preacher anywhere who didn’t have your car Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light But travelling by road was really too slow So you took to the air where the wild winds blow To remote Highland village, to island and to town You took the good news of the cross and the crown Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light A heart for revival, compassion for the lost You realised your vision, no matter what the cost A new church in Stirling – they said it was a dream But you made the dream come true, you swam against the stream Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light And now you face another fight, with weakness and disease But in your heart of hearts you know the One who holds the keys He shuts and no man opens, he opens and no man shuts He paid the price of freedom; there are no ifs or buts Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light You may take the high road and I may take the low You may be there before me; it may be fast or slow But one thing’s surely certain – we’ll meet high above Where Jesus will receive us and hold us in his love Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light Flying high, with undaunted heart, into the light © Alex J MacDonald 2017

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released November 25, 2017

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Alex MacDonald Edinburgh, UK

Grew up in Kildonan Strath, Sutherland, where I loved the psalms and hymns and the old folk songs my father had learned from his drover grand uncle.Went on to Cash, the Clancys and Corries, Tom Paxton and Dylan. Started playing guitar and writing songs in my teens, but only started recording this century with my rock band sons! Either solo or with my band, I've played all over Scotland. ... more

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