Hymns

His name was Jonah

Here’s an upbeat re-telling of the story of Jonah, sung to the tune of a classic hit song from the 1970s. It was written for an all-age service on Mothering Sunday (hence the ideas in the final verse & chorus), but is of course suitable for use any time.

Jonah

His name was Jonah, he was a prophet.
Among God’s people he was fine, was respected all the time.
He sat there thinking, “My life is easy!”
But one day God spoke up and said, “Jonah, get up out of bed!
Go down to Nineveh
and tell the people there
that the judgment of God is coming, so they’d best prepare!”

Oh, but Jonah! Where are you going?
A ship is no place to be stowing!
Oh, but Jonah! Where are you going?
Nineveh’s hist’ry, your fear is a myst’ry,
come on Jonah! … he ran away.

You see, when Jonah ran to the harbour,
he took the first ship that he found, and the ship was Tarshish-bound.
He went below deck, down with the cargo,
and in the belly of the boat, thought “It’s nice to be afloat.”
But up above, the crew
watched as the tempest grew.
And they cried out to one another, “What are we to do?”

Wake up Jonah! What were you thinking?
It’s your fault the ship is now sinking!
Wake up Jonah! What were you thinking?
Sorry to say now, there’s no other way now,
bye bye Jonah! … he’s overboard.

But just as Jonah was going under,
there came a creature sent by God, like a huge enormous cod.
Well in an instant, Jonah was swallowed!
And in the belly of the fish, there the prophet made a wish.
He turned to God and prayed:
“Sorry I disobeyed.
Still you saved me when I was drowning, so I’m not afraid!”

Well done Jonah! Time for your encore!
The fish brought you up on the seashore!
Well done Jonah! Time for your encore!
Nineveh’s waited, repentance is fated,
go now Jonah! … he preached God’s word.

[Last verse: much slower]
His name was Jonah, he was a prophet.
But now he sulks beneath a tree, just as wretched as can be.
So God says: “Jonah, mercy’s for sharing;
for when you take an ocean cruise, when a fish upon you chews,
it’s me who carries you –
and all these people too.
And I watch over all my children with a love that’s true.”

Oh now, Jonah! Stop your contending!
This story has a happy ending!
Oh now, Jonah! Stop your contending!
Powerful, maternal, God’s love is eternal,
come on Jonah! … open your heart.

Tune: “Copacabana” (Barry Manilow, Jack Feldman, Bruce Sussman 1978)

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