"River callin' in the desert" © 2018 iStockphoto LP
callin’ in the desert
callin’ in the waste land
all night and day
callin’ for a prophet
callin’ with a loud voice
prepare the way
come and wash me
flow before me wherever I go
and I’ll remember where you found me
I’ll remember when I go home
callin’ for the begger
callin’ for the leper
be healed today
callin’ for the sinner
call upon the savior
be saved today
callin’ for revival
callin’ for a dead man
wake from the grave
callin’ on the Father
callin’ on the Spirit
Words: © Caleb Dinger 2016
Music: © Caleb Dinger 2016 sheet music rev. 2018. Download as a PDF
This is a striking hymn, combining a creative use of biblical imagery with a gospel-country style of music (see below). The StF submissions group found River to be “simple, clear and easily singable by a congregation”.
Caleb Dinger draws on images that allude to a wide range of biblical stories and events, from both testaments. In verse 1, we recall both Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness, as well as John the Baptist “callin’ with a loud voice prepare the way”. The healing miracles of Jesus underpin verse 2, while verse 3 leads us from Christ’s resurrection to the events of Pentecost.
Jesus baptised in the River Jordan
At the same time, the highly personal tone of the language makes this a hymn not just about past events but very much about our own present needs and hopes.
Over all of this arches the rich imagery of the river: a sense of the divine that refreshes and restores desert places; of water that cleanses, heals and marks our baptismal relationship with God. Echoing the black American tradition of spirituals (within which the river Jordan is powerfully ingrained), we may sing of “river” in both a symbolic way while also remembering specific biblical episodes – from the healing of Naaman (2 Kings 5: 1-19) to the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3: 13-17). There are in all these instances a shared theme of new life and an opening up to a transforming relationship with God.
Caleb Dinger brings to Singing the Faith Plus a different style of worship music, blending gospel and country music influences. His songs certainly have a distinctively North American feel. Especially if this kind of music is new to you, it’s worth checking out Caleb’s website and listening to examples of his music in performance.
Caleb is a native of Brookville, Pennsylvania, but in 2013 moved to Nashville, Tennessee, the world capital of country music. Here he studied piano at Trevecca Nazarene University and was also hired as music director of Crievewood United Methodist Church. In addition to his church leadership position Caleb is a guest pianist with several bands in the Nashville area, a piano teacher, and a collaborative accompanist. He has performed with some of Nashville's best country musicians at the Nashville Cowboy Church, and his music was aired on Nashville's historic WSM Radio in November of 2016. He has recorded River with Joanne Cash-Yates, younger sister of Johnny Cash.
Having recorded his first album, Counting Stars, while still at high school, he continues to record country and Christian music – as he says “musically bridging the gap between genres with the desire to share the Gospel of Christ to all ages”. Also see Lead Us God (website only).