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‘Hey, is not that — ?’ Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn goes incognito in worship band

(RNS) — Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian singer-songwriter, had not attended church usually in additional than 40 years when he walked into the Lighthouse Church in San Francisco three years in the past.

He’d come on the request of his spouse, M.J., whose non secular quest, impelled by the loss of life of a good friend, led her to the church. Even then, “I instructed her, ‘I’m not going,’” he stated. “I stated I used to be previous that. I wasn’t a churchgoing particular person.”

However M.J. persevered. One Sunday, Cockburn relented and was “fully blown away.” 

“I didn’t know any of those individuals, and so they didn’t know me, however love stuffed the room,” he stated of the small non-denominational congregation. “It felt just like the church I used to be ready for.”


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Identified for a string of moody folk-rock Billboard 100 hits from the Nineteen Eighties (“Questioning The place the Lions Are,” “Lovers in a Harmful Time,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”) and his stints taking part in with The Grateful Useless (“Ready for a Miracle”), Cockburn had all the time integrated Christian theology and imagery into his songs.

Nonetheless, Cockburn, 76, didn’t see a motive to say his musical profession, even after he was invited to play within the church’s worship band. “No one knew who I used to be” once they prolonged the invitation to play, he stated. “They wanted a guitar participant, so that they have been silly sufficient to ask me.”

If, three years later, nobody had discovered that the home guitarist has 35 albums and 13 Junos — the Canadian Grammys — to his identify, they possible realized it in Could, when Cockburn launched 4 songs he’d written as a fundraiser for the church’s applications to help homeless individuals and fight human trafficking.

Bruce Cockburn performs on the Cambridge People Competition in July 2007. Picture by Bryan Ledgard/Wikimedia/Inventive Commons

An everyday churchgoer within the Nineteen Seventies, Cockburn give up in 1980 after transferring from Ottawa to Toronto. “I by no means discovered a church in Toronto that felt like house to me,” he stated. “I simply sort of stopped going.”

The reality was, “The formal church and I had grown aside,” he stated of his choice, at the same time as his religion remained sturdy. 

“It’s a seamless journey,” he stated. “I don’t really feel I’ve the nook on understanding something. I simply have a want to have a relationship with God, a day-to-day factor … I’ve all the time believed a relationship with God must be central to everybody’s life, and I’ve tried to maintain it the middle of mine.”

Whereas he doesn’t have “any hesitation” figuring out as a Christian, he’s beginning to surprise if that’s such a very good factor to say in public within the U.S. nowadays.

If somebody asks if he’s a Christian, he nonetheless says, “Sure, I’m a Christian, however I bought vaccinated.”

Due to pandemic shutdowns, Cockburn hasn’t performed stay at church for greater than a 12 months. However he has performed songs for on-line providers and took part in a sermon sequence about parables. The worship band provides him “an opportunity to play music apart from my very own,” he stated. “It’s a significant means for me to take part.”

One of many songs he wrote for the fundraiser, “Orders,” is “a biblical tackle issues, the order to like all of them,” he stated, referring to Jesus’ command to like neighbors.

“Tons of people that contemplate themselves believers incessantly neglect that,” he stated. “It’s a reminder to myself as a lot as to anybody else,” he added.


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One other music, “Us All,” addresses political polarization in America.

A lot of issues divide individuals, Cockburn stated. However “one of many issues all of us have in widespread is ache. Now we have scars that unite us all.”

When requested about the place his music comes from, he stated they’re presents that “come from God.”

“I nonetheless must filter it,” he stated, including, “Sadly, meaning God is caught with me as a filter.”

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