Cities

by Jonathon Roberts

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about

Cities is a song cycle personifying biblical cities. Each track responds to a specific city in the Bible–Bethlehem, Ephesus, Jerusalem, Jericho, and the "New City" as described in Revelation. They are inspired by specific passages that personify–Bethlehem being told in Micah that "though you are small, out of you will come a great ruler", and Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16 described as an adulterous wife, for example.

This project was developed in part while during a 2015 residency with Spark and Echo Arts
www.sparkandecho.org

credits

released February 22, 2017

Jonathon Roberts: vocals, piano, drum programming
Emily Clare Zempel: vocals, Boris the Bassoon (4)
Ariana Rosen: violin
Kevin Gosa: soprano and alto saxophones, backing vocals (1)
Meaghan Burke: cello, backing vocals (1,4)
James Hall: Trombone, backing vocals (1)
Walter Roberts: backing vocals (1, 6)

Lyrics by Emily Clare Zempel & Jonathon Roberts
Music and production by Jonathon Roberts

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about

Jonathon Roberts Beacon, New York

Jonathon MT Roberts is a composer and performer inspired by biblical text with a background in classical, jazz and, pop. He collaborates with his wife Emily Clare Zempel for the Spark & Echo band and write off the beaten path music and theatre. Founder of Spark and Echo Arts. ... more

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Track Name: I'm Small
I'm small
I'm small
All my brothers are bigger than me

I'm small
I'm small
All my sisters are bigger, too

But you don't know me
I've been around since ancient times
I got a plan, I got a plan that's old

Though I'm small
There'll come a day
When out of me there will come a king

There'll come a day when you too will feel small
You'll feel abandoned
Then stand with me and watch all my brothers and sisters stand, too

You should know me
I've been around since ancient times
I got a plan, I got a plan that's old

Out of me will come a king
Just like you, he'll be small, too
But when he stands, he'll be might
He'll be tall, he'll be strong

We are small, we are small
Stand with me and sing
We are small, we are small
We're children of the king

We are small, we are small
Stand with me and sing
We are small, we are small
We're children of the king

He will know us
He's been around since ancient times
He's got a plan
He's got a plan that's old

He will reign, he will lead
A Shepherd and a King
And there will be,
there will be peace everywhere and on everything
Track Name: Ephesus
We were alive
We were alive

We were alive
my streets were veins
and the people, blood
coursed in and out
my ports were full
I’m full

I was proud
I was proud as a king
all the happenings

when you walked here
commerce flowed
ideas sold
I was told
I had forgotten my first love

When they chased you
When they chased you
They had to chase
you said their gods were broken
their lives a farce
and I was afraid

I was afraid in my theater huge and proud
There was a sea of shouts
and all my walls fall down
My paths and roads congest and you are lost
I was lost

I had forgotten my first love

You sailed away
'cross the Aegean sea
leaving broken people inside of me

You saw them as one
sealed together with their fractures and their faults

But all I feel are splintered pieces
and if they fuse, these veins may block and bruise

Will I be lost, will I lose
I’ve forgotten my first love
I’ve forgotten my first love

Your letter came
Before the sea had left
You wished me fullness, while I
I tried to know

I tried to know
as the walls grew around
were you safe at last or were you walled up too
Are bones all that remain of me and you?

I will remember my first love
Track Name: I Passed By
I passed by
I passed by
I saw you kicking in your blood
And as you lay there, I said “Live”

I made you grow like a plant of the field
And You grew into the most beautiful of jewels
Your breasts were formed, your hair grew
You who were naked and bare

I passed by
I saw you were old enough for love
And as you lay there, I spread my cloak
And covered over you
I gave you my solemn oath
And entered into a covenant with you
And you became mine.

I bathed you with water
Washed your blood
Robed you in linen
Bracelets on your arm, ring in your nose
And you rose, a queen

But you trusted in your beauty and your fame
And lavished favors on anyone who passed by
Your beauty became his

They passed by, your lovers
I saw you gave them our children’s blood
As you lay there I will your body to them
Those you loved and those you hated

They will strip you of your jewels, stone You body
Leave you kicking in your blood, naked and bear
You, who rose a queen

Do you remember
Do you remember, Do you remember
I am the Lord, and I am your lover, your lover, Savior, and friend
Track Name: Jericho
I guard myself I know who you are
That you will pursue me if I let my guard down
So I stay secure, nothing in nothing out
Still you say that I am, that I am, that I am already yours
That I am already yours
I am delivered in your hands

You take your soul and your song and you play,
you play music as you circle me once a day
You never shout,
You wrap around me early in the morning and you hold me for days
You hold me for days
I am delivered in your hands

A week later you are still circling me
A week later you are still circling me
A week later you are still circling me

You are circling me when I hear the blast
I hear your voice, I hear you shout
And all my walls, my walls fall down

And I am exposed
My silver and my gold
What’s sacred, in your hands

I can’t keep you out everything I have, everything I have is being destroyed
I am cursed
And so is anyone who helps me, don’t try to help me cause I’m already–

I’m burned, Everything is over,
There’s a fire behind my gates and I’m gone,
I’m devoted, I am devoted, I am devoted by the edge of the sword

Yet one small part of me that’s a harlot,
a part I was sure you would hate, you love
It’s a life you carry, a life you love, she's gonna save the world

There’s a part of me that’s a harlot,
a part I was sure you would hate, you love
It’s a life you carry, a life you love, she’s gonna save the world
Track Name: New City
Everything here is new
everything here is new
everything here is new
--I got new shoes, I got new shoes
--If you can call them that
--Yeah, the whole concept of shoes has been turned around

Everything I see is new
--And you look like a bride
fine as jasper, clear as crystal
Measured end to end, your brilliance counts to ten!
Your gates a perfect twelve
In parallel

Everything I see is new

Look He is here with all his people here,
No sun or moon need shine, for we are bathed in sourceless light
All the old has passed away, each stone and every street and train
Begins and ends right here again

And all the water here is free
and I am released from death

When I first saw you
My breath came in a gasp
the weight upon my heart
held it and fast

For all that I had done
Was taken far away
And all that I had lost
Returned to stay

The tree that had me damned
On this new city street
Was full of fruit that healed
More would grow each week

And now I see your face, i see your face
the darkened days are past
there’s no more need to hide
I’m forgiven at last
Track Name: Reprise with Long Studio Fade
Mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow
Mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow
Mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow
Mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow mow

Also, sometimes "Whoaaaahhhh"