The Hound of Heaven - From Tow'rs to Francis Thompson

Lately, I've been enjoying the music of a little-known band called Tow'rs, whose style comes under the "indie folk" genre.  (Indie folk is a wonderful invention of old time instruments - fiddle, banjo, guitar, cello - combined with new lyrics and melodies.)  Tow'rs is from Arizona, and their specialty is infusing their songs with thoughtful meaning, while keeping the instrumentation and vocals gentle.  They also apply Christian themes to some of their songs, with subtlety which fits the music well.

"Two Sparrows" is a song which makes a recognizable biblical reference in its title.  The line that really grabbed my attention, however, was an unfamiliar one:
If Corina sail's stand still
The fields shake and flowers shrill
And the trees, your mother's arms
The hound of Zion seek your heart
And calls for you
Admittedly, I'm rusty in my Bible memory, but I could not place this phrase - "the hound of Zion."  Where did that come from?



A mere Google search away, I discovered there is a poem - a rather famous poem - called The Hound of Heaven, by a poet named Francis Thompson.  (Apparently Chesterton and Tolkien were impressed by it; now I do feel bad I hadn't heard of it.)  It is a quick read and well-worth it if you have never encountered it before.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;   
  I fled Him, down the arches of the years;   
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways   
    Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears   
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

I can only surmise Tow'rs was making reference to that poem in their own lyrics.  The imagery is certainly stunning, in spite of Thompson's dense word choice.  First I had my brother read it to me; then I read it myself...twice was necessary for basic understanding.

It is best maybe to read it as a memoir.  Francis Thompson's life involved a time of homelessness and opioid addiction, so for him to write this poem out of all of that is significant, but also personal.  I would like to read more of his writing at some point.

2 comments:

  1. I had also never read Francis Thompson before. The verse that you posted is impressive, thus I would like to give more of his work a try. I like it when popular music is literary.

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    1. Yes - it isn't often, but I do get excited to find literary references in contemporary music. :) Actually, that would be an interesting blog post series... Maybe I should do some research.

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