Echoes From Sunday School

Small Voice Calling > The Call > Echoes From Sunday School

Echoes from Sunday School in the Song Lyrics of Ralph McTell

Mirror held to mirror
As far as I can tell
At this glimpse of eternity
I fumbled and they fell

Between these shards restored
Lies truth in splintered cracks
As far as I can tell
Remembered light refracts

From  ‘As Far As I Can Tell’ by Ralph McTell
Full lyrics in ‘Time’s Poems’ p 339 / ‘As Far As I Can Tell’, p viii

In his autobiography, Ralph McTell recounts his childhood memories of attending Sunday School at the Mint Walk Mission in Croydon. Although he professes to have lost his childhood faith, shards of remembered Bible stories and hymns – echoes from Sunday School – have frequently graced Ralph’s song lyrics during his subsequent career.

This page records all the ‘shards’ I have detected in Ralph McTell’s lyrics, and their likely biblical sources. Songs with their own entries in The Call are linked to them, and the sources’ Bible references are linked to an on-line Bible.


Lyrics from


Echoes from Sunday School


Bible or other reference

A Bird off the Mountain

‘Time’s Poems’ p 364

(The Lord) helps them that help themselves

A saying that sounds scriptural but isn’t (see also Reverend Thunder)

Bicker and Rue

‘Time’s Poems’ p 140

Like the twenty third psalm

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd

Walking the valley of death  arm in arm

Psalm 23: 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…  you are with me

Big Tree

‘Time’s Poems’ p 412

Motifs of Adam and Eve

Genesis 3 The Garden of Eden

Barred from the garden and couldn’t get in

Genesis 3: 23 – 24 A flaming sword guards the way to the tree of life

Camilla the Camel

Audio recording

Lead the three wise men to Bethlehem

Matthew 2: 1 – 12 The Epiphany


‘The Unknown Soldier’ CD booklet

Returned to earth and mud

Genesis 3: 19 For you are dust, and to dust you shall return

God made man in his image

Genesis 1: 26 Let us make man in our image

Shaped him out of clay and made him flesh and blood

Genesis 2: 7 God makes mankind

Chalk Dust

‘Time’s Poems’ p 146

She reads the words scrawled on the blackboard

Daniel 5 Belshazzar’s feast: The writing on the wall (see also Rosalinda and Teacher Teacher)

Father Forgive Them

Time’s Poems’ p 310

Father forgive them for they know not what they do

Luke 23:34 The Crucifixion

First and Last Man

Time’s Poems’ p 334

I am the first and last man

Revelation 22: 13 I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last

Genesis Chapter 1 Verse 20

Time’s Poems’ p 315

On the sixth day will come man

Genesis 1: 24 – 31 The sixth day of creation

Gold in California

Time’s Poems’ p 98

Like Paul on the Damascus road

Acts 9: 1 – 9 Saul’s conversion

I Met Jesus at the Crossroads

Time’s Poems’ p 384

I met Jesus at the crossroads…

Elim Choruses, No 457

I’ve Thought About It

Time’s Poems’ p 100

And if Jesus came back to lead us again

1 Thessalonians 4: 16 – 17 The Second Coming of Jesus

Jesus Wept

Time’s Poems’ p 353

15 verses reflecting on the Passion of Jesus

John 11:35 Jesus wept (Title and last line of each verse)

1. The Day that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem

John 12: 12 – 19 Palm Sunday

2. Fulfilling the old prophecy

Luke 24: 13 – 49 The road to Emmaus

3. Was this his true destiny

Luke 2: 22 – 40 The presentation in the Temple

4. Love thy neighbour do not kill and turn the other cheek

Matthew 5 The sermon on the mount

5. He saw them bless the bomb

Matthew 24: 1 – 14 Rumours of war

6. He made him the rock on which he’d build his church

Matthew 16: 13 – 23 Caesarea Philippi

7. He thought of his disciples, especially of Judas

John 13: 1 – 30 The last supper

8. When he turned the tables over

Mark 11: 15 – 17 The cleansing of the Temple

9. …water into wine, sight to the blind… even raised the dead

John 2: 1 – 12 The wedding at Cana: Water into wine (see also Somewhere Down the Road)

Mark 10: 46 – 52 Blind Bartimaeus

John 11 The raising of Lazarus

10. Where were the five thousand he fed with loaves and fishes

Luke 9: 10 – 17 Feeding the five thousand

11. In his dream he saw a garden with all his friends asleep

Mark 14: 32 – 52 The garden of Gethsemane

12. Was he supposed to bear it like a man or like a God

Mark 15: 33 – 39 The death of Jesus

13. Saw the guiltless suffer with the guilty and the rest

Luke 13: 1 – 5 The tower of Siloam

14. And he heard his name intoned as they interred their companions

Luke 24: 1 – 12 The empty tomb

15. Then the scent of pine trees made him think of dear old Joseph

Matthew 13: 53 – 58 The carpenter’s son

Lantern Slides

‘Somewhere Down the Road’ CD booklet

Jesus bids us shine

A children’s hymn

Lunar Lullaby

Time’s Poems’ p 330

Who scattered the stars in the field of night

Psalm 8: 3 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place

We are dust

Genesis 2: 7 God formed man from the dust of the ground

It was all right, it is all right, it’ll be all right

Revelation  4: 8 Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come

Mrs Adlam’s Angels

Time’s Poems’ p 394

I wonder if her angels have their arms around her curled

Matthew 18: 10 Guardian angels

My Father’s House

‘Time’s Poems’ p 173

My father’s house I have outgrown

John 14: 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions

No Grown Man’s Land

‘Time’s Poems’ p 120

Like the hand of God breaking through the clouds surface to roll away the stone

Matthew 28: 2 The Resurrection

Peppers and Tomatoes

‘Time’s Poems’ p 185

We will reap what we have sown

Galatians 6: 7 A man reaps what he sows

Pick Up a Gun

‘Time’s Poems’ p 148

Thy will be done

Matthew 6: 10 The Lord’s Prayer (see also Reverend Thunder)

Praise the Lord

You can wait till kingdom come

Psalm 106: 1 Hallelujah!

Acts 1: 6 – 11 The Ascension


‘Time’s Poems’ p 400

Till the desert brings forth fruit

Joel 2: 22 Pastures in the wilderness

Till a hare sleeps with a hound

Isaiah 11: 6 – 9 The wolf and the lamb

Reverend Thunder

‘Time’s Poems’ p 188

”Somewhere Down the Road’ CD booklet

God moves in most mysterious ways

God moves, His wonders to perform, In most peculiar ways

Redemption Hymnal No 117 ‘God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform’

Before you put on your starry crown

James 1:12 The crown of life

On earth Thy will be done

Matthew 6: 10 The Lord’s Prayer (see also Pick Up a Gun)

The Lord helps them who help themselves

A saying that sounds scriptural but isn’t (see also A Bird off the Mountain)


‘Somewhere Down the Road’ CD booklet

Having written on the wall, the moving finger…

Daniel 5 Belshazzar’s feast: The writing on the wall (see also Chalk Dust and Teacher Teacher)

Small Voice Calling

‘Time’s Poems’ p 404

There’s a small voice

1 Kings 19: 1 – 18 The still small voice

calling my name…

1 Samuel 3: 1 – 14 God calls Samuel

…Outside and he wants to come in

Revelation 3: 14 – 22 Behold, I stand at the door and knock

…meek… Inherit the earth

Matthew 5: 5 The Beatitudes

Sometimes I Wish I Could Pray

‘Time’s Poems’ p 143

When I was a child I thought as a child…

1 Corinthians 13 The ‘love chapter’

To believe there’s a home way up in the sky

John 14: 2 – 4 I am going to prepare a place for you

To believe everything has been planned in advance

Jeremiah 29: 11 I know the plans I have for you

Somewhere Down the Road

‘Somewhere Down the Road’ CD booklet

The water tastes like wine

John 2: 1 – 12 The wedding at Cana: Water into wine (see also Jesus Wept #9)

Teacher Teacher

‘Time’s Poems’ p 410

The writing on the outside wall

Daniel 5 Belshazzar’s feast: The writing on the wall (see also Chalk Dust and Rosalinda)

The Shepherd’s Song

‘Time’s Poems’ p 298

The angel said you must go to Bethlehem

 Luke 2: 1 – 20 The Nativity

Time’s Poems (Haiku)

‘Time’s Poems’ p 446

In the beginning

Genesis 1: 1 God

John 1: 1 The Word