Star Over Bethlehem (Expanded Edition)

by Blake

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    Expanded Edition includes eleven extra tracks, two bonus tracks and original artwork.

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about

All profits from the sale of the album go to Musalaha Ministry of Reconciliation, a Jersualem based non-profit organisation that seeks to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians (www.musalaha.org) and the SIRA school in Bethlehem - a school for children with special educational needs (sira.se?page_id=48&lang=en). Both of these charities are partners of Embrace the Middle East, formerly known as BibleLands, the Christian charity which has been working on humanitarian projects in the region for over 150 years: www.embraceme.org

'Star Over Bethlehem' tells the story of the Nativity through the eyes (or rather, mouths) of the prophet Micah, Mary, Joseph, the Magi, Zechariah, Gabriel, the Innkeeper, the shepherds and Herod the Great. I wrote the majority of the songs in the run up to Christmas 2012 inspired by Jake Thackray’s beautiful songs ‘Joseph’ and ‘Remember Bethlehem’. (I uploaded live versions of these songs to YouTube around this time: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwXA-azFBjw)

Apparently, Thackray wrote the songs when he was working as a teacher for his school’s nativity play. I originally thought that I would try and do a similar thing but the songs turned out to be a bit too grown up for a children's nativity and I realised I was writing a kind of religious musical instead!

I began recording the album in April 2013 with Joe Brown at his house in Melksham. When we started we had no idea it would take us eight months to complete the record. I thought I'd given myself plenty of time for once. Some of the tracks I recorded at home on my Tascam DP-01 FX. The drums were recorded at Nam Studios, Holt, Base Sound Studios in Stroud and, in the case of the song 'Star Over Bethlehem', in my lounge.

What I have tried to do is weld a late sixties/early seventies rock vibe (heavily influenced by the original cast recordings to 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and 'Hair') with middle eastern instruments and sounds. Lyrically, I attempted to emulate Jake Thackray by concentrating on the feelings of the protagonists, particularly Mary and Joseph. As well as being a tale about God coming to Earth as King, the Nativity story is also about the reaction to Divine events by ordinary human beings.

Reading about the life of Vittorio Arrigoni was the inspiration for my previous album, 'Stay Human', and was the starting point for familiarising myself with the history and politics of the 'Holy Land'. Opinions about the conflict in Israel and Palestine are polarised in the extreme. What is certain is that great, great suffering is being experienced by many people, particularly - and this needs to be acknowledged dispassionately as a fact - on the Palestinian side. I visited the Holy Land in summer 2014 having been invited to perform at the Bet Lahem Live Music and Arts Festival by its organiser, and founder of the Holy Land Trust, Sami Awad. Sami is a Palestinian Christian and believes that a solution to the conflict and a just peace can only be brought about through forgiveness and reconciliation via the transformation of fear into love in people's hearts. The star in the nativity story - the light shining brightest in the darkness - is the sign guiding people towards the source of peace and love. Jesus said 'Blessed are the peacemakers' and, consequently, I am donating half the proceeds of sales to Musalaha, an organisation working for peace and reconciliation in the region based on the teachings of Jesus, spearheaded by Sami's friend Salim Munayer of the Bethlehem Bible College. The nativity story tells the remarkable tale of God coming to earth as a helpless baby. The other half of the proceeds are going to the SIRA (Swedish International Relief Association) school in Bethlehem demonstrating love in action for the most vulnerable children in the West Bank.

As well as producing the album, Joe played on most of the tracks. I can't thank him enough for his patience and his amazing musicianship. I was blessed to have Beth Evans singing the Mary parts - her voice really is angelic - and my lovely friends Helen and Richard Bousfield, Chris Scrivens, Richard Kilbey and Paul Kench all generously donated their time and skill. Thanks guys. The album was mastered by the fab Mr. Andy Rowland at Gatehouse Studios, Swindon: www.gatehousestudios.co.uk

A live recording of the Star Over Bethlehem launch concert, which includes fourteen of the seventeen tracks on the album performed live (with Amy Jarvis singing the 'Mary' vocals), is available to listen to here: www.mixcloud.com/thisisblake/blake-star-over-bethlehem-live-full-album-launch-concert/

This special Extended Edition of the album was released on the first day of Advent 2014. I didn’t have time to finish recording all the songs I had written for Star Over Bethlehem when the album was first released at Christmas 2013. The eleven new songs I have added complete the telling of the story. The new tracks are just acoustic sketches as I have not had the time or money this year to enable me to record them in the studio. They were assembled in my front room on my Tascam Portastudio from the original demos I had made in snatches of free time – mostly after the kids had gone to bed. However, you can now hear the full album as it was originally conceived.

This Edition includes a new mix of the song 'Star Over Bethlehem'. This track was always supposed to be a duet between Mary and Joseph but I did not have time to record a vocal from Beth in the studio last year. Instead Beth's sister Amy has now contributed a gorgeous harmony vocal and the song was released on 1st December 2014 as a single with all the proceeds again donated to the charities mentioned above.


www.thisisblake.com

credits

released November 30, 2014

All songs written by Julian Pugsley.
Blake - vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, mandolin, harmonium, harmonica, drums, programming
Joe Brown - vocals, keyboards, bass guitar, Spanish guitar, programming
Beth Evans - vocals
Amy Evans - vocals on 'Star Over Bethlehem'
Chris Scrivens - drums on 'Nightmares', 'What Can I Say' and 'Lay It Down'
Helen Bousfield - flute, recorder on 'Marry Me' and 'Nightmares'; bass guitar on 'The Olive Trees'
Richard Bousfield - bouzouki on 'Don't Worry, Mary/No Room'
Paul Kench - lead guitar on 'Lay It Down'; Resonator guitar on 'Star Over Bethlehem'
Richard Kilbey - lead guitar on 'Jesus Gonna Turn Your Life Around'

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about

Blake Bath and North East Somerset

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from the UK. My new album 'Holy Roller' was released on 15th April 2017. Sign up to my mailing list and receive a free download of my track 'Vinyl Junkie': eepurl.com/dV04f

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Track Name: The Prophecy
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah,
though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2
Track Name: Marry Me
I could make you a table, Mary
I could make you a chair
I could make you a cradle, Mary
You could make me an heir!

I could make you a wardrobe, Mary
I could you make you a chest
I could make you anything Mary
What would you like best?

Mary, Mary

Look at this beam now, Mary
It’s strong and it’s true
What I really mean, dear Mary
I’d do anything for you

I could make you happy Mary
All I have I’ll share
Won’t you turn around dear Mary
You’ve got shavings in your hair

Mary, marry me
Track Name: Nightmares
Now I can hardly sleep I’m burdened by all these dreams I have
Fears welling from the deep and cares that I never used to have
Sometimes I sit and weep I miss all the simple joys I had, how can I get back?

Nightmares, nightmares, nightmares am I to be
Lost in the dark how can I escape
Nightmares, nightmares, nightmares following me
Lost in the dark and I’m losing control O lord please save my soul
Track Name: Follow The Star
Sand stretched out for miles
Crossing the desert we’ve had our share of trials
All we want and all we need
Ilumination to follow where you lead

We’ve followed you past walls and towers
We’ve followed you so far
We’ve followed you in darkest hours no matter where we are
We’ve followed you through every season
In sun and rain and mist
We’ve followed you for one good reason
One too good to miss

Follow the star (follow the star) with its bright light guiding
A gift greater than anything
Follow the star (follow the star) with its bright light shining
On our way to greet the king

The way steep with gulleys wide
Crossing the mountains it seemed like suicide
All we want and all we know
Illumination to guide us where to go

We’ve followed you past indecision
We’ve followed you past fear
We’ve followed you past old religion and myths of yester-year
We’ve followed you through pain and sorrow
We’ve followed you in joy
We’ve followed you to make tomorrow
A place death can’t destroy

Follow the star (follow the star) with its bright light guiding
A gift greater than anything
Follow the star (follow the star) with its bright light shining
On our way to greet the king
Track Name: The Lord Is With Thee (Annunciation)
Mary, Mary, Mary the Lord is with thee
Blessed, Blessed, Blessed among women
Thou shalt conceive, bring forth a son and shalt call his name Jesus

How shall this be? How shall this be? Seeing I know not a man
Holy, Holy, the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee
The power of the most high shall overshadow thee
The child shall be called the Son of God
Track Name: I Believe (Magnificat)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit doth rejoice for he has poured
Most mercifully his love on me

He has cast the mighty from their thrones
And to the meek and lowly he has shown
His majesty now I believe

I Believe I Believe oh
Your baby jumps for joy within you
I Believe I Believe oh
I Believe

Scattered far the proud in their conceit
Sent away the rich for his promise to keep
To Abraham and all his sons

He has filled the hungry with good things
To his servant Israel he will bring
A saviour King now I can sing

I Believe I Believe oh
Your baby jumps for joy within you
I Believe I Believe oh
I Believe
Track Name: On Earth as in Heaven (Benedictus)
Praise be the Lord the God of Israel
For his people he has saved
In the house of his servant David
There the saviour shall be raised

As was spoken through the prophets of old
He has saved us from our enemies just like they foretold

That we might serve him without fearing
All our days in holiness
By preparing the way before him
Will this holy child be blessed

As was spoken through the prophets of old
He has saved us from our enemies just like they foretold

Heaven on earth as in Heaven
God’s kingdom is coming
We will know forgiveness from our sins
On earth as in Heaven on earth as in Heaven
God’s kingdom is coming
Through the child who will be born to be King

And to his people nothing deceitful will you tell of God’s great love
Though we’re unworthy his tender mercy shall shine down from up above

As was spoken through the prophets of old
He has saved us from our enemies just like they foretold

Heaven on earth as in Heaven
God’s kingdom is coming
We will know forgiveness from our sins
On earth as in Heaven on earth as in Heaven
God’s kingdom is coming
Through the child who will be born to be King

The rising sun will come from Heaven
And shine on those who need release
From the shadow of death; null our transgressions
Guide our feet into the way of peace

Heaven on earth as in Heaven
God’s kingdom is coming
We will know forgiveness from our sins
On earth as in Heaven on earth as in Heaven
God’s kingdom is coming
Through the child who will be born to be King
Track Name: Sit Down
Joseph sit down there’s something I must say
I had to come round I had to find a way
My heart is aching and my mind just cannot rest
I cannot take in the way we have been blessed

I am uncertain how you’ll feel
I hope your love for me is real

Mary sit down what troubles you this night
Why does your face frown let me help you put things right
Soon we will marry and forever live as one
So don’t you tarry come and tell me what is wrong

I know for certain how I’ll feel
I know my love for you is real

Joseph
Mary
I’m scared
Track Name: What Can I Say
Mary’s so naïve to think I would just believe
What can I say when I just don’t want it
Mary must be mad if she thinks I’ll be its dad
What can I say when I just don’t want it
Mary says it’s fine but we both know it isn’t mine
What can I say when I just don’t want it
Mary’s just a tease did she think that I’d be pleased
What can I say when I just don’t want it

The ‘Son of God’ is not my son

Lord I’m just a man can you help me understand
What can I say when I just don’t want it
Lord it can’t be true can you help me make it through
God what can I do I give all my pain to you
What can I say when I just don’t want it
God please heed my prayer, can you hear me, are you there?
What can I say when I just don’t want it

The ‘Son of God’ is not my son
The ‘Son of God’ is not my son
Track Name: Pierced
All that I wanted
Is here at last
And all that we prayed for
Has finally come to pass

Time after time, time after time
Your love has pierced me
Time after time, time after time
Your love has pierced me

Oh your love has pierced me
Oh your love has pierced me

All of our longing
Is now fulfilled in thee
And for our transgressions
Such cruelty

Time after time, time after time
Your love has pierced me
Time after time, time after time
Your love has pierced me

Oh your love has pierced me
Oh your love has pierced me

A babe born to save us
To suffer his part
And enter our darkness
It pierces me to the heart

Time after time, time after time
Your love has pierced me
Time after time, time after time
Your love has pierced me

Oh your love has pierced me
Oh your love has pierced me
Track Name: Now I Must Leave Her
Now I must leave her
I’ll do it quietly
I’ll send her far away
Far from her family

Oh but I love her
My heart is torn in two
All of the plans we’d made
I just can’t believe it’s true

Joseph Joseph do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife
Joseph Joseph by the Holy Spirit the child was given life

Ah but she’s guilty
It’s plain for all to see
I promised her everything
How could she do this to me

She seemed so innocent
I can’t stand this jealousy
I would give anything
To find out who stole her from me

Joseph Joseph do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife
Joseph Joseph by the Holy Spirit the child was given life

How can I forgive her
My friends all mock me in the street
How can I be with her
Can I believe she didn’t cheat?
Track Name: The Best Thing In Your Life
She was the best thing in your life
But you have forsaken her
You didn’t give her half a chance
To tell the circumstances
That surround this twist of fate

She was the best in your life
But you don’t believe her
You wouldn’t hear a word she said
Or think beyond her bed
And now maybe it’s too late

Why don’t you stop?
Don’t you know you got a good thing going
Why don’t you stop?
Are you thinking something you’re not showing
Why don’t you stop?
Is there a chance you might be able to believe

She was the best thing in your life
So why be so cruel to her
She always told the truth to you
She never was untrue
But now she bears a broken heart

She was the best thing in your life
So why don’t you fight for her
You said your love would never die
But now you turn and fly
Are you sure you want to part

Why don’t you stop?
Take a little time and think it over
Why don’t you stop?
It’s hard for both of you this strange disclosure
Why don’t you stop?
There’s still time for you to tell her not to leave

Why don’t you stop?
Is it what others think that is so painful
Why don’t you stop
Or just the thought that your love was unfaithful
Why don’t you stop
Is there a chance you might be able to believe

She was the best thing in your life
Track Name: Run To Meet You
When you want to lay it all down
When you’re tired of two feet on the ground
When your dreams have been taken away
When you scream you can’t face the new day
When your hopes have all ended in tears
When you’re sick of the boasts and the jeers
When you’re missing the things you once had
When you’re wishing that things weren’t so bad

I’ll run to meet you
Show you the person you’re meant to be
Fall at your feet to
Show you the person you’re meant to be

When you sigh cos your luck’s let you down
When you cry but there’s no-one around
When your hope is extinguished by pain
When you think your chance won’t come again
When you’re lost and you can’t reach your goal
When the cost of love bankrupts your soul
When you’re frozen and locked in the past
When you’re broken and tied to the mast

When the ground falls from under your feet
When you’re down and you know that you’re beat
When you’ve taken the wrong turn again
When you’re aching and caught in the rain
When you’re turning your face to the wall
When you’re yearning to just end it all
When you’re washed up and shattered and torn
When you wish that you’d never been born

I’ll run to meet you
Show you the person you’re meant to be
Fall at your feet to
Show you the person you’re meant to be
Track Name: Shout It From The Rooftops
Shout it from the rooftops
Say it in the streets
Our God is coming
Tell all you meet
Call down from the mountain
Cry have no fear
The Lord our saviour
Will soon be here

Shout it from the rooftops
Scream it in the squares
Our God is coming
Cast off your cares
Call down from the mountain
Cry have no fear
The Lord our saviour
Will soon be here

Shout it from the rooftops
All over the land
The Kingdom of Heaven
Is close at hand
Call down from the mountain
Cry have no fear
The Lord our saviour
Will soon be here
Track Name: The Olive Trees
Oh my love come down with me
Down amongst the olive trees
Oh my love come down with me
Oh my love it is so nice
In this earthly paradise
Oh my love come down with me
They’ve been here a thousand years
Now they cry a thousand tears
Oh my love come down with me

If they cut them down
If they cut them down
If they cut them down
The earth screams
The people’s dreams die

They bring swords and they bring shields
Soldiers keep us from our fields
Oh my love let’s save the trees
Rich in oil at harvest time
The lifeblood of Palestine
Oh my love let’s save the trees
They will never understand
We are rooted in this land
Oh my love let’s save the trees

If they cut them down
If they cut them down
If they cut them down
The earth screams
The people’s dreams die

Oh my love come down with me
Down amongst the olive trees
Oh my love come down with me
Track Name: Go and Be Counted
Now you people of Nazareth listen to me
The Emperor Augustus sends to you a decree
You’d better do what he says or you’ll be feeling the heat

Go Go and be counted
Go Go and be counted
Go Go and be counted in your ancestral town
Don’t hang around

Now you people of Nazareth listen to this
The son of God himself bids you to do his wish
Pay tribute to the king or you will face the abyss

Go Go and be counted
Go Go and be counted
Go Go and be counted in your ancestral town
Don’t hang around

Go and be counted
Track Name: Don't Worry, Mary/No Room
Joseph I’m tired the journey’s been long
I don’t have the strength to carry on
All I desire is some place to lay my head
Joseph why can’t we find a bed?

Don’t worry Mary, don’t worry Mary
Don’t worry Mary
I’ll find somewhere to stay
Don’t worry Mary, don’t worry Mary
Don’t worry Mary
I’ll find somewhere to stay
I’ll find a way

Joseph keep trying we don’t have much time
Why are the people so unkind?
Lord will you help us we call out to you
I have been faithful through and through

Don’t worry Mary, don’t worry Mary
Don’t worry Mary
I’ll find somewhere to stay
Don’t worry Mary, don’t worry Mary
Don’t worry Mary
I’ll find somewhere to stay
I’ll find a way

No room No room
No room No room
I have to find us somewhere soon

No room No room
No room No room
I have to find us somewhere soon

Sir can you help us
My wife is in pain
Do you have somewhere we can remain?
Sir I must beg you
Her time is now due
There must be something you can do!

No room No room
No room No room
I have to find us somewhere soon

No room No room
No room No room
I have to find us somewhere soon

Sir wait a minute
Have pity I pray
Is there a room where we can stay?
Here take this lantern
There’s no room inside
You’ll find the stables warm and dry
Track Name: Jesus Gonna Turn Your Life Around
Shepherds do not fear, shepherds do not fear
The Lord your God is here, the Lord your God is here
Heed this news I bring, heed this news I bring
Go and honour him, make your offering

Go and worship the Lord
In a farmyard he lies with a maid
Go and worship the Lord
In a manger he is laid

Jesus gonna turn your life around
Jesus gonna turn things upside down

Here in David’s town, here in David’s town
Better get on down, better get on down
Go and praise the King, go and praise the King
The Lord of everything, what can you offer him?

Go and worship the Lord
In a farmyard he lies just a babe
Go and worship the Lord
In a manger he is laid

Jesus gonna turn your life around
Jesus gonna turn things upside down
Track Name: Fear Not
Fear not shepherds do not flee
Glad tidings I bring with me
Peace on earth good will to thee

Christ the Lord is born this night
Chosen to put all things right
All men will in Him delight

He is the Messiah, the King
And his praises go and sing
Unto him your presence bring

Go and praise the Lord
Go and praise the Lord
Go and praise the Lord
Worship him
The world’s true king is here

Heed this news to you I bring
Leave your flocks and honour him
Go and make your offering

In David’s town you’ll find the babe
In a farmyard with a maid
In a manger he is laid

All wrapped up in swaddling bands
Grace and mercy in his hands
God’s beloved Son is Man

Go and praise the Lord
Go and praise the Lord
Go and praise the Lord
Worship him
The world’s true king is here
Track Name: Tonight
From lands far East
We come to seek
The newborn prince of peace
Tonight, tonight

To honour him
Rare gifts we bring
This holy infant king
Tonight, tonight

Of great expense
Gold, myrrh and frankincense
Offered in reverence
Tonight, tonight

The angel said
A stable bed
Is where he lays his head
Tonight, tonight

We have no gold
Our sheep are in the fold
We came for we were told
Tonight, tonight

How God’s own son
For all the world has come
His earthly reign begun
Tonight, tonight
Track Name: Praise His Name (Hallelujah)
His birth is lowly
He lies upon the hay
His name is holy
And worthy of our praise

Tonight our God has come
Our Saviour here to dwell
Tonight we’ve had a son
Our Lord Immanuel

Praise His Name, Praise His Name
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Praise His Name, Praise His Name
Hallelujah Hallelujah

Wrapped up in swaddling bands
In the manger warm
God comes to earth as man
Jesus Christ is born

Praise His Name, Praise His Name
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Praise His Name, Praise His Name
Hallelujah Hallelujah
Track Name: Lay It Down
Listen people you’ve heard it said
From Bethlehem comes the living bread
Whose origins are from of old
In ancient times it was foretold
Listen people to what you’ve read

Lay it down o ye sons and daughters
Lay it down all your shame and fear
Lay it down drink the living water
Lay it down because the King is here

The Lord himself has given us a sign
From a virgin’s womb and from David’s line
He has come to make all things well
Our God is with us Immanuel
The Lord himself is now with us entwined

Lay it down o ye sons and daughters
Lay it down all your shame and fear
Lay it down drink the living water
Lay it down because the King is here

God is with us
The Lord himself
Track Name: The King Is Here
I am the King divine
All that you can see is mine
This talk of ‘Messiah’ is troubling me
I will send out a decree, just watch me

Prophesised in ancient days
They wish to adore him they say
From the House of David a ruler will come
Well he will end his life young, very young

Hallelujah Hallelujah the King is here!
Hallelujah Hallelujah the King is here!

Born in my kingdom a child
Innocent, meek and mild
This seed shall be harvested before it has grown
I shall not be overthrown, let it be known

These people are ungrateful fools
I rebuilt the temple of the Jews
Do they really think they can shake off Roman rule?
I will show them who’s who, kill boys under two!

Hallelujah Hallelujah the King is here!
Hallelujah Hallelujah the King is here!
Track Name: Into Your Hands
Into your hands
We give it all
Into your arms
We know we can fall
Give you our lives
All that we do
We make mistakes
You make us anew

Jesus thank God you are there
Jesus as we lift our hearts in prayer
Jesus we will not despair
Cos we know you love us Jesus

Into this world
By lowliest birth
You came to serve
Bring your kingdom to earth
You opened your arms
You let your life fall
You let us know
That you love us all

Jesus let us count the ways
Jesus that you set our hearts ablaze
Jesus as we lift your name in praise
And we know you love us Jesus

Jesus thank God you are here
Jesus you take away all fear
Jesus you’re forever near
Cos we know you love us Jesus
Track Name: Star Over Bethlehem
There’s a star over Bethlehem
A light to proclaim the good news to all men
That God has come to save us

There’s a light for two thousand years shining
In our hearts and all it’s by his designing
For our God has come and saved us

Every night the stars shine bright
We remember the Christmas story
Every night, the stars shine bright
We praise you for your glory

There’s a wall around Bethlehem
And there’s a wall built around the hearts of your children
Thank God you came to save us