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The Ranger and The Cleric

by Jim Griffin

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    - Facsimile frontispiece of the orginal article by Prof. C.K. Atwood (1930)
    - Song-cycle details and chronology
    - Complete lyric sheet
    - Ackowledgements and web sources used in this recording
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(i) Thoughts Combine (0’00’’) (ii) The Ranger and the Cleric (4’41’’) The Ranger and the Cleric Observed their home of Eighteen years From a far-off hilltop In the forest Where to them The light had first appeared “The village looks peaceful And contented Oh but we can hear the march of time” And silence descended on the clearing As the thoughts of both combined Wanderlust Has dug his restless claws in us Oh it’s like they always said it was No-one ever thought that it was true. And gently The slightest sound behind them As the cloak of green was rearranged A cough and then an introduction The exchange of very famous names And then the Prophet told them of The visions she had seen The birth of a legend Behind that shield of green Of adventures ending in the stars Beginning in the dust Of the things that could never happen And the things that must Wanderlust Has spread her gilded wings for us Oh it’s like they always said it was No-one ever thought that it was true (iii) The Visions of the Prophet (8’00’’) (iv) Agent Provocateur (11’11’’) A figure in a tavern In the northern icy wastes Clutches to a letter For the three he now awaits Soon his mission will be done And he can ride for home But although with him the tales’ begun To this day he is unknown Some say: A mage disguised in horsehair Some say he was A God made man on earth Some; a simple farmer’s son Who toiled between the stones Planting seeds from which his crop Of epic tales was grown Some say there was no messenger Just a single word Whispered to the Ranger But the Ranger misheard “Wanderlust” It’s like they always said it was No-one ever thought that it was true But it was true. It was now. (v) In a single word they were bound to begin and never end (15’41’’) Fragment #1 [unnamed; original source; cat. no. MU-RC-7001] (16’46’’) (vi) Gentle Deeds of Charity (17’22’’) Fragment #2 [“Exodus to the stars” cat. no. MU-RC-7209] (20’09’’) (vii) Tellings [Interrupted] (20’37’’) Fragment #3 [unnamed; original source; cat. no. MU-RC-7005] (25’37’’) (viii) Re-tellings (26’11’’) (ix) Ancient Memories from beneath the Pillars of Creation [containing passages from the cosmic canon - original sources lost] (28’25’’) This was the last tale You told me With the Saddest eyes I ever saw "Beneath the Pillars of Creation Which fell so many years before…" I could feel your words I felt your words Tumbling down on me "The Siege of Oort, The Flight of Nameless Things Through Phosphorescent Ancient Halls" Space expands Through the fragments Of the stories I have heard I could feel your words I feel your words Slipping away from me I forget so much it scares me And sadly people most of all A life of floating pieces haunted By the saddest eyes I ever saw. The saddest eyes I ever saw Were yours (x) Into the future but not into the past [disputed provenance] (35’39’’) (xi) Vanishing Point [corrupted partial remnant] (38’22’’) Book of gentle deeds; Record of our cosmic lives Paladin and Priest Who dreamed, starry-eyed Oh these stories Contained within are Messages for All our times We hope they travel Through uncorrupted lines O don't forget us…


Origins and corruptions of a mythic story-cycle

We can trace the origins of the ranger and the cleric story-cycle, (in its most common although significantly incomplete form), to codices compiled in mediaeval Europe circa 1250AD, most of which – as far as we can tell - no longer exist in their original forms. However, many other tellings can be found across different, more distant folklores, wherein mythological characters with direct similarity to those contained in the later stories emanating from mid-western Europe can be found. Indeed, the archetypal paladin, priest and prophet appear to be fundamental characters in early civilizations’ debates around cosmos and chaos.

Across all fragments of these many accounts a common origin-myth can be identified. All involve a warrior and a spiritual figure - both of humble origin - combining forces to wander the land as avenging heroes of the dispossessed and deprived.

It is interesting to note that the appearance of the agent provocateur occurs only in later versions of the myth. Whilst pre-Christian authors usually ascribe a totally altruistic purpose to the protagonists, later versions from Europe rely heavily on the role of an unseen actor in directing the deeds of the ranger and the cleric. As this enigmatic character’s influence increases in significance across the later centuries of the mythos, the role of the female character (usually referred to as a prophet or visionary of some kind) – a role evident in all fragments from antiquity – is consistently reduced to one of lower and lower importance and status.

It is, however - when all is said and done - the cosmic elements of this story that surely prove the most intriguing to both modern folklorist and scientific observer alike. Whilst the initial elements of the tale centre around simple, gentle deeds of kindness and charity (one common story involving the bringing of fine gifts to a poor couple’s wedding, another the saving of livestock during a flood) – the later elements, although recorded nowhere in anything close to complete form – hint at some form of exodus from Earth and ensuing adventures amongst the planets of the solar system, and perhaps even beyond. Knowledge of astronomy, cosmology, rocketry and even Mr. Einstein's new ideas on relativity is implied in pieces of the ancient stories that remain.

Of course, nearly all sources are at best multiple generation copies and have no doubt been corrupted through time and retelling – affected by cultural and religious politics without question. What remains, no matter how fragmentary, is presented here, now.

Professor C.K. Atwood (1930)
(Reprinted with the kind permission of the Atwood estate and the Board of Trustees of MU)


released February 25, 2015

Released on Reverb Worship (Cat No. RW 289) in a limited edition, hand-made CD artifact: Available at: www.reverbworship.com

Performed by Jim Griffin. Inspired by the work of H.P. Lovecraft, Albrecht Durer, Gary Gygax, Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke.

Don't forget us.


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