An Idle Tale

from "Stay with Us", a cantata for the Easter season

Music by Ron Klusmeier
Words by Walter Farquharson

Lyrics as Poetry

These women tell an idle tale
that we just can’t believe.
The message that they bring to us
is one we can’t receive.
They say that Jesus isn’t dead
but lives and sends us word
that we should welcome this new day
remembering all we’ve heard.

The dead don’t rise to live again,
to walk and talk and sing—
when Jesus died upon the cross,
that ended everything.
If God had word to speak to us,
would women gospel bring?
Can winter of the soul erupt
and blossom into spring?

The tale they tell seems strangely right.
It echoes things we’ve heard.
But how can we know false from true?
How shall we know God’s word?

Words by
Walter FarquharsonCopyright © 1988 by Walter Farquharson
Administered by Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, Illinois • USA

Comments About Song

A Reflection by

It is a modern myth that people of past generations found it easier to believe than do we who live in what is supposedly a more informed, scientific age.

A reading of the gospel narratives, with their differences in specific details and explanations, should help us see that the gospel writers knew that there was no proof of Jesus’ resurrection other than in the life of the resurrection community. These writers would have had no illusions about writing either a scientific treatise or an irrefutable historical account (as if such could ever be written at any time about any event).

By the time the gospels were written, opponents of the small faith communities were, from various political, doctrinal and social perspectives, doing what they could to discredit (debunk) the movement and its claims and ministries. Authorities from the temple, from centres of the Empire, and from the local power structures that benefitted from their cozy relationship with the Roman conquerors, all had their reasons for attacking the churches and the gospel (good news) these faith communities proclaimed.

That women were involved in the inner circle of Jesus’ followers was, for many, scandal enough. That they would be numbered among the first of apostles carrying and affirming the message was virtually revolutionary. According to the gospel narratives, this sense of scandal also plagued and confused many of the early male disciples as well.

This song from the cantata Stay with Us, seeks, like the entire cantata, to bring the Easter event into our own times and lives. We who sing it, we who hear it, like the first disciples, have trouble believing the message. We have trouble because believing the message calls us into living the message. The assumptions by which we live, and by which much of the world lives, are thrown into places of confusion, questioning, testing. If the message of the women is true, what lies ahead can no longer be life as we have always lived it. Self-centred living (egocentricity) stands exposed as the false gospel it has always been. This self-centredness is the self-centredness of the individual, of the family, of the institutions and alliances of our society. It infects or controls many of the particular political, economic, religious and secular doctrinal assumptions and assertions that we serve.

The “message” confuses, now as then.

Even so, we acknowledge that “The tale they tell seems strangely right, it echoes things we’ve heard…”

For the first disciples, and for us, we know that we have heard echoes of this message. We have heard it from the law and the prophets, heard it in stories of mercy and justice within the human family, heard it in the whisperings of creation, heard it in the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth, heard and hear it yet today in the “still, small voices” of truth and call…

Scripture References

  • Matthew 28:1-15a
  • Mark 16:1-13
  • Luke 24:1-12
  • John 20:1-18

Season, Theme
or Subject

  • Doubt
  • Easter
  • Inclusiveness
  • Men
  • Resurrection
  • Witness
  • Women

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