Resurrection Reading: The Singer by Calvin Miller

Humanity is fickle. They may dress for a morning coronation and never feel the need to change clothes to attend an execution in the afternoon.

So Triumphal Sundays and Good Fridays always fit comfortably into the same April week.

I’ve written about Calvin Miller’s trilogy, The Singer, The Song and The Finale, here before. I first read Miller’s trilogy when I was in high school. I once took part in a drama based on The Singer at First Baptist Church in Austin. I was the Mother of the Singer.

So, these books, which tell in poetic narrative the story of the New Testament, are full of memories for me. I love the way Mr. Miller takes the story of Jesus and His church and fits it into a form which is fresh and poetic and infused with meaning. If you’re looking for some “Resurrection reading” for this week before Resurrection Sunday, I can recommend these books, especially the first one, The SInger which tells the story of Earthmaker, his son, The Troubadour, and the enemy of mankind, World-Hater.

. . . the Singer looked through glazed eyes and saw his foe, sitting on an old and rotten beam. He leered above the stretched and dying man before him.

“You give me joy and music you will never hear, Singer. Groan for me. Scream the fire that fills your soul. Spew the venom of your grudge upon the city. Never have I known the triumph of my hate till now.”

He rose and walked across the beam and stepped upon a cable. The added strain drew the manacles into the wrists of the dying Singer.

“Check-mate, Singer!” He howled into the mist and the shrieking of his laughter was absorbed into the opaque air.

The Singer felt the agony of dying, the multiplied pain of a hundred thousand men all dying at one time.

With an agility of delight the Hater danced his way round the armature and strutted on the ropes. He looked into the fog again and shouted, “Your move, Earthmaker!”

. . . .

“Now who will sing the Father-Spirit’s Song?” he asked the dying man.

The Singer seemed to rally in his suffering. From somewhere far beyond himself he drew a final surge of strength and sang the final verse again.

“And now the great reduction has begun:
Earthmker and his Troubadour are one.”

He sang. And then his lips fell silently apart and his head slumped forward on his chest.

The Father-Spirit wept.

The fog swirled in bleak and utter numbness.

Existence raved.

The stones bled.

The Shrine of Older Life collapsed in rubble.

And Terra shuddered in her awful crime.

There you have a sample of Mr. Miller’s version of the Gospel. If it appeals to you, you migh want to read the rest of the story. (By the way, it doesn’t end there.)

6 thoughts on “Resurrection Reading: The Singer by Calvin Miller

  1. This one’s on my SR challenge list, too. I’ve got a copy in my office library but haven’t read it yet.

  2. my email is jphillips@pbp.com

    I have been desperately searching for a poem that goes something like:

    Two Artists met One Time in a little wood.
    Each brought their finest painting storked by his complete uniqueness….
    Please help me find the book that it is from

    I would be most appreciative.

    Blessings
    Mrs J Phillips

  3. Thomas

    It is from The Singer by Calvin Miller

    Two artists met one time within
    a little wood. Each brought his
    finest painting stroked by
    his complete uniqueness. When
    each revealed his canvas to the
    other–they were identical.

    So once in every solar system
    there are two fingerprints alike.

    But only once.

  4. Judith Biber

    I read the Singer, The Song, and the Finale a long time ago. In one of the books, I remember reading the author’s “take” on death – how it should be a jublious celebration of a believer’s “homecoming”. Could anyone send me that particular prose on death? – it’s timely. Thanks.

  5. Judith Biber

    I read the Singer, the Song, the Finale many years ago and I remembering reading in one of the books the author’s “take” on death – how a Christian’s perspective of death should be a jubliant one – a “homecoming” celebration! Could someone e-mail me that particular prose – it’s timely now. Thanks.

  6. Leanah

    The Singer Trilogy is by far my most favorite “translation” of the Gospel. I first read The Singer when I was 14 or so, gave the book away to a friend who really needed to hear the Gospel in any form and totally lost track of its title for years. Thanks to internet, I ‘rediscovered’ it about 7 years ago, read the whole Trilogy in a weekend, between fits of sobbing (it’s so beautifully written). My favorite chapter is 17, where Earthmaker and Troubadour “sat down upon the outer rim”, talked about the Plan and “now the great reduction has begun: Earthmaker and his Troubadour are one”.

    It’s not too often I come across others who get as much joy from Calvin Miller’s Gospel, so I had to chime in!

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