Orphan Girl

Lately, I have been listening to the song “Orphan Girl” by Gillian Welch a lot.  Here are the lyrics:

I am an orphan on God’s highway
But I’ll share my travels if you go my way
I have no mother, no father
No sister, no brother
I am an orphan girl

I have had friendships pure and golden
But the ties of kinship I have not known them
I know no mother, no father
No sister, no brother
I am an orphan girl

But when He calls me I will be able
To meet my family at God’s table
I’ll meet my mother, my father
My sister, my brother
No more an orphan girl

Blessed Savior make me willing
And walk beside me until I’m with them
Be my mother, my father
My sister, my brother
I am an orphan girl

This is one of my favorite songs for several reasons, and in this particular post I’ll tell you why.

It’s from her album “Revival” which came out in 1996, so it’s not exactly a new song, but one of the things I love about her music is that it almost all sounds like it’s 50 years old.  So that’s a plus right there.  The harmonies she and Dave Rawlings create on the song are also very nice sounding, yet haunting at the same time.

It’s also her life story.  She was born an orphan and adopted, so it’s got this really personal and intimate feeling to it.

Those are a couple of reasons.  But thematically, this song is brilliant.  I don’t know if Gillian Welch is a Christian or not, but she has a few songs where she just nails many of the truths of the Gospel (“By the Mark” is another favorite of mine).  It’s the doctrine of adoption, and the desire for that doctrine to be true is ingrained in all of us.  We long for one to be our family when family fails.  We long for one to be more than enough when often times inadequate is the best we get.

It’s one of those songs that I feel stupid even trying to write about, because I feel like it’s self explanatory.  But you should listen to this song.  And you should listen to Gillian Welch, because she’s really good.

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