Leaf By Niggle

I'm presently writing a book about the Proverbs of Middle-earth, and I'm wondering about cover images and so on.  Here are two pictures that would (in a perfect world) be ideal: the first by Alan Lee, the second by Tolkien himself.

Alan Lee - Leaf By Niggle
Tolkien Tumble Hill

The reason I'm think of trees is that the book works on the premise that Tolkien created his world in the same way that Niggle painted his Tree – focusing on the details.  Just as Niggle would agonise over individual leaves, Tolkien built his world on the intricacies of invented languages, nomenclature and – yes – proverbs.

Psalm 20:7-8 [Much Amplified Version]

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, 
But we trust in the name of the Lord our God. 
They are brought to their knees and fall, 
But we rise up and stand firm.
Psalm 20:7-8 

Egyptian chariot and horses
I used to write a lot of songs and poems while in church services – partly because I have been blessed with a short attention span, and therefore have a mind wandering in several directions almost constantly – but not for a good few years.

Apropos of nothing, it started up again last Sunday, and I wrote the below Psalm extension the day before yesterday at St Peter's, Mt Pleasant.

Some trust in horses and in chariots
But I will trust in You
Some trust in careers and in salaries
But I will trust in You
Some trust in sex or in relationships
But I will trust in You

Some trust in governments and in laws
But I will trust in You
Some trust in ideologies and philosophies
But I will trust in You
Some trust in ethics and in religion
But I will trust in You 

And there are some who trust in nobody but themselves
And I don't want to be one of them either;
I will trust in You 

The Library of the New Covenant

I've changed the order of the Bible.  Now let me explain.

All Christians have issues with the Bible.  For some, the issue is simply that we don't read it, but more often it's more to do with the fact that we do.  One of the main issues I have with the Bible is that we think it's a book.  It's not a book, people!  The Bible is a library – that is what 'bible' means – a library compiled over centuries, containing multiple examples of multiple genres.

In my oh-so-humble-that-it-hurts opinion, the books in this Library have been arranged in a really poor order – illogical, unaesthetic, unhelpful.  To take an obvious example, the Gospel of John, which would clearly make the best beginning to the New Testament (since it starts, 'In the beginning…') is stuck between Luke & Acts, destroying the flow between those two books, which should clearly be read as two halves of the same whole.  Who decided that was a good idea?  Apparently no one: it just happened, around the time of the printing press, and was then mass-produced.  Before that, the Library had no official order, and was arranged in a variety of orders.

Well I think it's time to make my contribution.  I'm not a good enough OT scholar to work out rearrangement there, but I've had a go at the New Testament.  Click on it for a bigger version, footnotes are below.

Library of the New Covenant

1 Inclusion of Revelation within the Johannine bloc is not intended to imply common authorship.
2 Revelation is divided in two parts: The Letters to the Churches (Ch 1-3) and The Vision (Ch 4-22).
3 The Hebraic Books (Hebrews, Matthew, James) are addended by Jude, due to filial relationship with James.
4 Mark was an affiliate of Peter, hence his Gospel grouped with the Petrine epistles.
5 Galatians follows Acts due to its referencing of the Jew-to-Gentile narrative.
6 The Prison Letters were all supposedly written from Rome during Paul's imprisonment.


I wrote this about five years ago, and yesterday re-found it whilst clearing through my old notebooks to see what to take with me to the States.  I used to write a lot of this sort of thing.

Redemption Rain
Redemption is the story of loss becoming gain;
Of slavery bought back;
Of liberty returned.
It is the dawn after a nightmare,
The postern door in an impenetrable wall,
The feast after the famine.

We have been crawling and are learning to walk.
We have been drowning and are learning to swim.
We have been given clothes but do not yet know
How to put them on.

My eyelids flutter;
Wanting at last to open,
Wanting at last to see,
Yet unaccustomed to anything save darkness.

My fingertips reach out to touch and to hold,
But my muscles are weak,

I cannot yet pluck a flower.

The new, fresh fragrances of spring are all around,
But my nose is blocked.
I cannot yet taste the festive spread I am being fed.
But redemption says I will. 

I Like Big Props and I Cannot Lie

Fran cotton mud
[click the title below to listen]


I like big props and I cannot lie
You rugger-lovers can't deny
That when you see the fat boys scrumming down
With a 'crouch-touch-pause-engage'
You feel chuffed
With a proud chest out-puffed
Cos you know those props look tough

Deep in the mud at Twickers
You'll find a dumb ox like Vickers
Or maybe, it's a swampy fixture
Like Fran Cotton in that picture

Some League fans tried to recruit me
But with scrums like that – please!
Someone shoot me!
Ooh, God Almighty
I like to see them feisty
So scrummage, boys, scrummage
Use that epic tonnage

We've all seen them playing
Stuck in, with no complaining
They sweat, threat, keep going in dry or wet

I tire of old Australia
With a front row that's a failure
It's an average team, easy to stop
If you don't believe in props

So fellas, fellas – does that front row make you proud?
Then praise them, raise them; sing their names out loud.
Rugby needs props

[eighteen stone with a face like coleslaw]

I like them round and big
Ugly like a pig
I would not love this game if the scrum was dropped
And we lost our props
Those cauliflower ears
Say no – double up – no fears
Not talking about half-breaks
When a prop sidesteps, the Earth shakes!

I like them real thick like a brick
Ruck over
If you want that ball quick
On my perfect rugby canvas
Is a front-row hand-off
In the face of a stand-off

With legs like Os du Randt
Big and wide like an African elephant
Solid in the rear
Like that Tongan, Soane Tonga'uiha

Why not?
A blood-clot mug-shot
Fat and squat like Gareth Chilcott
Pretty-boy face like Graham Roundtree
And harder than an iron foundry
Running wild in a strop
Like a triceritops
We need to love our props

So ladies, ladies – how d'you feel about having more babies?
If you feed them lard and beer by the yard
They'll be madder than dogs with rabies
Rugby needs props.


Step into the Road


It's a dangerous business going out of your door.
You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet,
there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.



This is just an excuse to post the first poster for the Hobbit, AND to utilise one of the guiding quotes I endeavour to live in the light of.  Compare:

Thomas said, "Master, we have no idea where you're going.
How do you expect us to know the road?"

Jesus said, "I am the Road."

Crown Him with many, many Crowns

This Sunday, Maria & I (along with Paddy, our curly-haired percussive stick-wielder) are responsible for the music at church.  Fun fun fun.  We'll be finishing the service with one of The Great Hymns: Crown Him with many Crowns; a song so worth singing that it contains twelve verses in all – six written by a Catholic, and a further six by a Protestant, seeking to alter its theological tone.

Whatever the reason, you end up with a LOT of crowns – fittingly, I suppose, since the song is based on a verse in Revelation which says “…and on His head were many crowns.”

Last night, having been practising, I started singing 'Crown Him the Lord of Teeth …' for no apparent reason, which started me off into thinking of other things that Jesus might legitimately be the Lord of (since, you know, He is Lord of all).  And thus were born the following verses:


Crown Him the Lord of Teeth, behold His pearly whites!
His smile, unhindered by decay, outshines the Heavenly lights
So brush we as He brushed:
Three times a day, then floss;
To crown our crowns and molars all with Jesus' dental gloss

Crown Him the Lord of Tyres, the vulcanising flame
Whose tread protects us in the wet, and keeps us on The Way
Down lane, down street, down road
He bears us on toward
Eternal days of dwelling in the Goodyear of the Lord

Crown Him the Lord of Toes; of flesh, tendon and bone:
The big one went to market and the little one stayed at home!
He varnishes the nails,
And makes the smell be sweet
The bringer of the Gospel, lo! How beautiful the feet.

Crown Him the Lord of Sleep, the Monarch of the Nap
The doze, the kip, the dreaming sloth stretched out upon His back
With thunderous tone of snore
His lie-ins have no end
Somnambulant in majesty from His own King-sized bed

[with apologies for heresy and all injury caused]