Sunday, August 5, 2012

Turn! Turn! Turn! (A Song from Ecclesiastes 3:1-14)


There are only few instances when the lyrics of a song are taken from the verses of the Holy Scriptures. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” is a song of the 60’s that was adopted almost verbatim from verses of the Old Testament Book Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 by an American folksinger and songwriter, Pete Seeger, who put them into music. The book of Ecclesiastes was ascribed to a King of Israel who was known for his wisdom, Solomon, who was the second son of King David. It can be assumed therefore that the writer of lyrics of the song of Pete Seeger was King Solomon.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” was popularized by the American rock and roll band the Byrds in Colombia Records. The Byrds’ rendition put the song number 1 in 1965 in the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and number 26 in the UK Singles Charts. The Biblical verses were played by the band to the beat of rock and roll which was probably the reason of the song’s enduring success. Rock and roll was the popular genre of the 60’s which saw the rise of some of the greatest bands of all time such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Other artists who also covered the song included Peter, Paul and Mary, the Seekers, the Lettermen, Judy Collins and others.



The song says that there is a time or season for everything. It also says of the realities that we meet as we live our life in this world. We are bound to experience contrasting situations in the course of our life such as planting and reaping, laughing and weeping, dancing and mourning, casting and gathering stones, loving and hating, embracing and refraining from it and rending and sewing. And there are life’s ultimate realities – birth and death. Sometimes bad things need to happen to change a bad situation for the better. Examples are the need to kill in order to heal; the need to destroy in order to build; the need to lose in order to gain and the need to war in order to attain peace.                                                                                                                     

Pete Seeger made the first verse of Ecclesiastes 3 as the chorus, and rearranged the order of the others to suit his song. He added few words which are in the title of the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” that are also repeated in the chorus. He also inserted a clause in the last line of the song “I swear it’s not too late” after the phrase “a time for peace” to put emphasis on one of the central messages of the song which is peace.  

Following are the lyrics and video of the song:

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late






[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/byrds/turn+turn+turn_20026419.html ]