20th April – A Prayer for Today

In a ‘play it at home’ musical extravaganza live streamed across the globe under the banner One World: Together at Home and repackaged by the BBC last night, Taylor Swift, one of the brightest stars in the pop musical firmament, chose to play a song she wrote about her mother’s cancer, which takes us, from the start to the fear and silence of a hospital room:

The buttons of my coat were tangled in my hair
In doctor's-office lighting, I didn't tell you I was scared …

Time Magazine’s Raisa Bruner stated that the song is a "sweet country lullaby" and an "acoustic ballad about illness and hoping for health", and added that "ultimately the song is a kind of prayer". Bruner expanded that Swift's repetition of the song title, ‘Soon you’ll get better’ "functions more as a plea than a proclamation, an uncertainty that the song's delicacy echoes." It is a song for our times, a song for this moment and a prayerful hope.

I’ve tried to put into words how it struck me.

Last night on the TV
We listened, silently
As a young woman poured
Her broken heart into a song.

We watched her home-made film
As she sat behind her piano
Her eyes closed, mostly
Her pain unfiltered, palpable.

This was the song she said
She would never sing in public
For it channels her own grief
Lays out what’s unresolved.

In a social media age
Of misplaced faked emotion
Here was vulnerability and courage
played out alone.

Sharing with a broken world
Fighting fear, uncertainly
Brought together the isolated
In the gift of her heart-break song.

Lord,
Somehow may we
soon make it better
for everyone
everywhere.

Michael Mays