Zacchaeus was a tiny man,
Small both in heart and stature;
He was despised, for to his own
He was a low tax-catcher.
When Jesus came into his town,
Zacchaeus grew a-flustered;
He yearned to see this holy one,
And so his strength he mustered;
He clambered up a tree that stood
And to his sight gave favor.
And so he saw our Lord so good,
And felt his heart grow graver.
But Jesus looked into the tree,
His eyes not slow nor dodging,
And said, “Zacchaeus, come down here,
For I require your lodging.”
The people grumbled and complained,
“He’s eating with a sinner!”
But he did vow to right his ways,
And leave his purse all thinner.
Our Savior came to seek the lost,
And claim them with elation.
Zacchaeus found his home that day;
Its name is called salvation.
TEXT: Charles Spence Freeman, 2019, after Luke 19:1-10
MUSIC: Suggested tune BARBARA ALLEN, English traditional melody.
Another exercise of a sort, taking a known folk tune instead of a hymn tune with which I'm familiar. BARBARA ALLEN actually has been appropriated for a few hymns, though none I know terribly well (I think there's a John Bell text attached to it somewhere?), but for ex-musicologist me it's mostly known for the tragic love story most traditionally attached to it. With the tune coming first in this case (not my usual practice), I found myself, consciously or not, drawn to the idea of making or adapting a text that told a story, as ballad tunes like this one so often do. Conveniently, the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector happens to be the lectionary gospel reading for a week from Sunday. What fun when things work out that way...so if you were inclined to call this "The Ballad of Zacchaeus" I could hardly object.