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Who'd have thought the Lord Almighty

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of ... Tamar ... Rahab ... Ruth ... the wife of Uriah ... and ... Mary Matthew 1:1-3-5-6-16

By Leland Bryant ROSS, Dec. 7, 1996
Released to the Public Domain

A ‘sacred ballad’ honoring Jesus' female ancestors

I wrote this in memory of Jesus female ancestors, especially those in Matthew 1 (Luke 3 ignores women's part in the lineage entirely); Matthew singles out 5 -- out of a potential 42 -- for special mention, and interestingly they are all in some way (sexually or ethnically or both) scandalous. Each of the first five stanzas is intended to cap a brief homily on the woman in question and the iconoclasm of her inclusion among Jesus' forebears, with a summation on the shock of the gospel preceding stanzas 6-8.

1: Tamar
Gen. 38: impersonates prostitute in order to get her father-in-law to impregnate her
Who'd have thought the Lord Almighty
     from all women on the earth
Would have chosen Tamar the wily
     to prepare for Jesus' birth?
But he chose her, and we laud her
     for her chutzpah and her brains,
In gratitude we applaud her:
     Hallelujah! Jesus reigns!

2: Rahab
Jos. 2: traitor to her country, Jericho; bordellista
Who would dream the God of Moses,
     and of Joshua son of Nun,
Would elect a Jericho harlot —
     and a traitor — for his Son
To descend from? Yet he picked her!
     Praise the wisdom of his choice:
Hallelujah! God is with us!
    Let us marvel and rejoice!

3: Ruth
Gen. 19: illegal alien descended from the incestuous survivors of Sodom
Who'd imagine, of all nations,
     God would call on Moab's aid
To advance the cause of salvation?
     that a needed role played
A widowed exile sprung from Sodom
     — and from incest — that her part
Would be great-grandmother, in Israel,
     of a man after God's own heart?

4: Bathsheba
2 Sam. 11: she's cute; have him killed
Who would guess that when, in wartime,
     on her roof Bathsheba lay
And occasioned maybe the worst crime
     in the annals of her day,
God, the righteous Lord of Zion
     through that lust would vict'ry win,
From their union bringing a scion
     who'd annihilate all sin.

5: Mary
Luke 1: the word on the street is, it was a Roman soldier
Who'd suppose a country girl
     such as Mary would attract
The Creator of the whole world?
     But she did, and that's a fact.
She conceived and bore a child
     by the Spirit of the Lord —
Our Redeemer, "meek and mild",
     sharper than a two-edged sword!

6-8: Reprise

Who'd believe that these five ladies,
     and so many nameless more,
In God's great assault upon Hades
     would be called and chosen for
The advancement to perfection
     of the Lord's ongoing plan
By a process of election
     to bring forth the Son of Man?

Mudstained cloth and damaged vessels
     are the means our Lord has used,
Yet our sense of pride still wrestles
     with the meaning of these truths:
Not the holy and the haughty,
     but the humble and the flawed —
Be they prostitutes or monarchs —
    are the forebears of our God.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,
     hallelujah, hallelu!
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
     hallelujah, hallelu-hu-hu!
So we sing their praises gladly,
     named and nameless, brash and shy,
For the offspring of their body
     is the Apple of God's eye!

Leland Bryant ROSS, 1996

When I made up the tune, I thought I was imitating "Scarlet Ribbons",
but it turns out the similarity is much greater to "Silver Threads and Golden Ribbons"
to whose proprietors I apologize for the trespass.
Here's another MIDI that is still closer to STGR (source unknown)

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