Summary: Because we believe that God is sovereign, and because we believe that the risen Christ is living and that the power of the Holy Spirit continues to make all things new, we can affirm that we are being healed again and again.
Back in 1971, Gavin Bryars, one of England's leading musicians and composers, agreed to help his friend Alan Powers with the sound on a film that Powers was making about street people. He was filming in an area around London's Waterloo Station. He filmed various people living on the streets. He caught their daily rituals, trials and joys on film. Some of the homeless people were obviously drunk, some were mentally disturbed, some were very articulate, and some were incomprehensible.
Back in the studio, Gavin Bryars went through editing the audio and video footage. That's when he became aware of a constant undercurrent, a repeating sound that was always there on the audio tape whenever one older man appeared on camera. But he couldn't tell what the sound was. At first it sounded like muttered gibberish. So Bryars removed the background street noise and cleaned up the audio tape. Then he discovered that the old homeless man was singing.
Ironically, the footage of this old man and his muttered song didn't make the film maker's cut. But the film maker's loss was Gavin Bryars' gain. He took the rejected audio tape with him and could not escape the haunting sounds of this homeless, nameless man. He did some research on his own into who this homeless man might be.
From the film crew, Bryars learned that this street beggar didn't drink. But neither did he engage others in conversation. His speech was almost impossible to understand, but his demeanor was cheerful. He was old and alone and filthy and homeless, but he had a kind of playfulness about him. He would tease the film crew by swapping hats with them.
What distinguished this old man from other street people was his song. The song he sang under his breath was a simple, repetitive Sunday-school tune. He would sit and quietly sing it, hour after hour after hour. He would sing:
Jesus' blood never failed me yet, Never failed me yet
Jesus' blood never failed me yet,
There's one thing I know, For he loves me so...
It was like an endless loop. The song's final line fed into its first line, starting the tune over and over again without ceasing. The man's weak, old, untrained voice never wavered from pitch, never went flat, never changed key. The simple intervals of the tune were perfectly maintained for however long he sang.
Gavin Bryars was stunned. Although not a believer himself, Bryars could not help but be confronted by the mysterious spiritual power of this unadorned voice. Sitting in the midst of an urban wilderness, this voice touched a lonely, aching place that lurks in the human heart, offering an unexpected message of faith and hope in the midst of the darkest, most blighted night. This nameless old man brought a message from God in his simple song.
It took England's leading contemporary composer until 1993 to create and produce what he felt was a proper accompaniment to this homeless person's song of trust and obedience. He did this in partnership with one of America's leading composers, Philip Glass. The result is a CD entitled "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet."