Saturday, May 19, 2012
There Is a Redeemer -- Melody Green
A redeemed hippie. That’s what someone might have said about Melody Green in the mid-1970’s. Along with much of the rest of her generation, Melody seemed to effervesce when she had found the truth, magnified by the polar opposite life she had been living. “There is a Redeemer” that she wrote by 1977, including the third verse by her husband Keith, was a pretty simple expression of the Greens’ discovery. That probably explains its wide popularity. Maybe the way the third verse and its writer’s destiny played out just a few years after its composition helps explain the song’s reach too. Some might say Keith Green was being apocalyptic, perhaps even seeing the four horsemen in the Apocalypse (see the picture).
Melody’s path to “There Is a Redeemer” was anything but direct, and even after its composition, there would be unexpected events that gave fresh meaning to its words. She’d grown up in the Jewish faith of her parents and grandparents, the latter of whom were survivors of the persecution in tsarist Russia. Despite her respect for their influence upon her early life, in her teens and early 20’s Melody tried Buddhism in Japan on the heels of experimentation with drugs in California, as she searched for fulfillment and something that could be termed genuine. She met Keith, her husband in 1972, and they mutually sought the faith they felt must be out there, finally grasping it in 1975 during a bible study. In the aftermath of the discovery, Melody and Keith started something that continues today, called Last Days Ministry (LDM), an outreach to the drug culture, to unwed teenage mothers, and to their neighborhood too. It was in the midst of this in 1977 that Melody penned the words to the song that has become so well-known. Its message was straightforward – Jesus is God’s present to the world, and He also left the Spirit to continue what the Son started. Keith wrote the third verse, unknowing that its words would have what some might call an eerie ring to them just a few years hence, a call to imagine the eternal future. In 1982, with their family life, LDM, and Keith’s music career blossoming, a tragic event—a plane crash—snuffed out the life of Keith and two of the Greens’ children. …Last Days Ministry, ‘life is short, make it count’ the website of this organization the Greens started says. One wonders if that motto buoyed Melody during that heart-rending period in 1982.
LDM is still active today, carried along perhaps by the memory of the song’s truth contained in its final verse. You just never know when your eternity will become fact, perhaps something that Keith Green would tell us if he were here today. Oh, I guess he did say it today after all…it’s in the verse he wrote in 1977. Am I listening to what I’ve been singing…?
The source for the song story is “The Complete Book of Hymns – Inspiring Stories About 600 Hymns and Praise Songs”, by William J. and Ardythe Petersen, Tyndale House Publishers, 2006.
Also see the following links for biographies of the composer: http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/authordetail.php?aut_id=431
Also see the following site for background on a ministry the composer began: http://www.lastdaysministries.org/