Jesus Wept by Ralph McTell

by Sister Julie Ann on March 1, 2008

Ralph McTellA world renown storyteller, Ralph McTell, is a singer, prolific-skillful songwriter, and acoustic guitar player born in Farnborough, England. Jesus Wept is a ardent narrative of Jesus Christ’s heartrending and tender journey to the cross that commences with “the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.” Listen to these lyrics from one who profoundly reflects on the passion of Jesus.He wasn’t scared of dying, he’d made that commitment
Fulfilling the old prophecy, his bargain he had kept
He was due some satisfaction, but he was deeply troubled,
And that’s why Jesus wept…

Though Peter would betray him, he made him the rock
On which he would build his church to sort of keep him in his debt
A man about to die is allowed some confusion,
And that’s why Jesus wept…

From website  

Ralph made his debut in 1968 with the album ‘Eight Frames a Second’ and in 1974 the release of ‘Streets of London’ earned him an Ivor Novello Award. In 1993, Nanci Griffith recorded ‘From Clare to Here’ on her Grammy Award winning album and in 2002 he was presented with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

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17 thoughts on “Jesus Wept by Ralph McTell”

  1. Sister Marsaia says:

    The sounds in this country ballad are simply beautiful! The chord progression and the melody are straightforward, easily singable by any listener. The voice is clear as crystal. Throughout the song an echo and various background effects lend an expansiveness to the message; an expansiveness that emphasizes the “hugeness” of this message for all of His followers. The words get to the core of the message. How perfect for this Lenten season: Jesus Wept!

    There’s so much to think about in the lyrics of this song. These are words that try to explore and understand Jesus’ deep, deep suffering. Suffering very human, very crushing, very poignant. Jesus suffers most when those around Him, whom He loves most (that’s ALL OF US!!!), just don’t get the message. Lent is certainly a time to ask ourselves if we use His message as an excuse to close others out or whether we’re trying to hear His words: “Love thy neighbor, do not kill and turn the other cheek.” And are we trying to FOCUS ON knowing and loving JESUS better? What efforts do I make to turn my concerns over to Him, to praise and thank Him in every moment of the day for His love, His tears, His dying and rising; His promise of eternal life?

  2. MWilhelm says:

    This song was a very beautiful song. There is much meaning behind the lyrics for me. It gave me a new perspective. It communicates to me what Jesus could have thought about before he was going to die. I never thought about it from that perspective before.

  3. Julia Egan says:

    This song reminds one of all the sadness and bad in the world, but it is also very refreshing and full of hope. It reiterates the love Jesus has for us, so much that He died for us, and that love is never ending. That’s always a good thing to remind ourselves.

  4. Thank you M.W. and Julia for your blog post. Jesus, fully God and fully human, is clearly the main prominent figure in this song that seems suspended in time. The paschal mystery is both past, present and future.

    St. Bonaventure (The Major Legend of St. Francis, The Miracles) has a great piece of prose about St. Francis’ sacred sign of the Tau that seems fitting to quote here during this time of tender focus on the passion of Jesus:

    “But it is revealed in such fullness to the little one of Christ(Francis), that in his whole life he followed nothing except the footsteps of the cross, he tasted nothing except the sweetness of the cross, and he preached nothing except the glory of the cross…Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  5. Kat Stratton says:

    It’s very interesting the guitar progression that was choosen to go with the lyrics. They are major- happy chords, that don’t at first glance meet with the words that are being sung. But as it goes on, what happens to Jesus is sad, hard to listen to almost, yet Jesus cries for us. He cries for the ones he loves, to release us from the bonds that hold us- and that is a happy thing. The demensions this song holds may be far beyond one single listening to. It is not a song you can take at one listen and say if you like it or not, or really how it touched your life. I believe it is a song that needs to be taken to heart, through a few listnenings to fully understand and gain from it.

  6. Jesus wept…words found in today’s Sunday Gospel. You are right, Kat, there is real sadness here and real joy. For me, it does seem the lyrics and the “happy” chords are appropriate on a Franciscanized World page!

    Yesterday I was blessed to attend a John Duns Scotus Conference in which Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ, a Franciscan scholar, visioned a world of abundance, beauty, presence, gratitude, reverence, and joy. In reflecting on this song’s lyrics, Jesus (and Scotus) offer hope to those who suffer. We, too, are given opportunities to be present with those who suffer and do what we can to alleviate the suffering. What can I be for another right now? What can I do? Francis leaped into action in “rebuilding the church”. Can it be any different for me?

  7. Sister Mariella Erdmann says:

    The song is both haunting and tremendously hope filled. Jesus’ struggle is REAL. He is truly human with truly human emotions in the face of death but He is also divine and sees and knows the pain and suffering that sin has brought into this world. He embraces the suffering and death He will endure because He is LOVE and He loves each of us so very much. His life is one of total self-giving. He sees us WORTH all of His suffering because He sees the world and all in it as it was meant to be – good and beautiful.
    I am struck with deep gratitude as I reflect what Jesus felt as he approached suffering and death for me. It makes me desire to do the same for others in the daily events of my life. I , too, can be love for another and bring hope by the way I live and accept the realities of this life. The question is, “Am I willing to do this?”

  8. Jess says:

    The words definitely hit home during this Lenten season.

    *Special thanks to the sisters who joined us this evening to share discussion on vocation! We are truly blessed 🙂

    Catholic Student Coalition

  9. Jess, thanks for your swift comments. (We were still on the way home when you posted this!) As William Shakespeare said: “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” Sister Mary Ann and I did enjoy our time with all you faith-filled UW Whitewater students.

  10. Sister Pat Sevcik says:

    Refelection on this song brings me to ask, “what in my life/our lives, makes Jesus weep for joy or sadness?” Life as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity challenges me to move beyond familiar boundaries and routines, to slow down long enough to share joy with others and to help lift the burdens of those around me. Angela and I will be sharing soon with our whole Community in the sacred Triduum. May we be graced to enter fully into all of these sacred mysteries and may blessing go out to the whole world during this beautiful season.

  11. TIME magazine’s “ideas that are changing the world” included “rereading the Gospels through the eyes of a Jew: Jesus.” (March 24, 2008 issue) McTell’s lyrics tell a timely story of Jesus, very human and divine. We continue to search for a greater understanding of Jesus. This is a lifeTIME journey.

  12. Leslie says:

    Jesus was not weeping for himself he was weeping for us. For all of us. Jesus is ever patient even though we make the same mistakes over and over again. I heard a homily the other day about the night that Jesus was betrayed. The priest said that even with all the sin that was ocuring that night the worst sin was the sin of Judas. Not the sin he betrail but the sin of despair. Judas hung himself he did not trust in the mercy of Jesus. Jesus wants us to ask for his forgivness. It is almost time for Easter and the joyous resurection. I can’t wait.

  13. Leslie, I hope you don’t mind if a I quote a phrase from Pope Benedict’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ that really affirms what you just shared: “This then is what we pray from the depths of our soul not to be robbed of our faith, which enables us to see God, which binds us with Christ. This is why we pray that, in our concern for goods, we may not lose the GOOD itself; that even faced with the loss of goods, we may not also lose the GOOD, which is GOD; that we ourselves may not be lost: Deliver us from evil!” (p. 166)

  14. Sister June says:

    The song “That Is Why Jesus Wept” is very moving. It gave me new insights into the mind of Jesus as he was going up to Calvary. I love the commitment he had to His Father. His remembering his mother, Mary in the stories that she told him. Then the pine trees that reminded him of his father Joseph, the carpenter.

  15. Sister Mary Frances says:

    This song really tells us like it was with Jesus….helped me to understand why Jesus wept. We always think that it was because He knew He was close to death and being human, was afraid. But, as the song points out, Jesus had reason to weep over many things. It is a very thought-provoking song for me..the words are meaningful and will stay with me.

  16. Jeff Alderman says:

    Don’t forget, however, the lines..

    “Rumours started flying about water into wine, sight to the blind and how he’d even raised the dead. You know the biggest miracle – everyone believed it – that’s why Jesus wept”

    Mctell’s Jesus is completely human with no miracles. By the way I am agnostic but still love the song. I once sang it at a church Easter service and people came up afterwards and said the hairs had stood up on the backs of their necks.

    All the best…

  17. Thanks for writing Jeff! This song does touch my heart also, for the very reason you speak of…Jesus is one who walks along side of me in my weaknesses and strengths, not to judge, but to “be with me.”

    It is a great Easter song!

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