The Songs We Will Sing.

#30 Boney M: By The Rivers of Babylon: 1978.

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Boney M. is a Caribbean vocal group which formed in West Germany in the 1970s. Frank Farian was the group’s primary songwriter and record producer and this is where the Australian connection comes in. Farian had been watching an Australian television series in which the lead character was named Boney. This television series was set in outback Australia and based on the books of Arthur Upfield which told of the exploits of an aboriginal policeman, Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte. Farian added the M and the group became Boney M.

Some of my favourite Boney M‘s songs are Daddy Cool, Rasputin and Ma Baker. They have a whole lot of pretty good Christmas songs, some of which we will visit as the Christmas season approaches. For today my Boney M song is their 1978 hit, By the Rivers of Babylon.

The lyrics for By the Rivers of Babylon come pretty much word for word from a couple of Old Testament Psalms, namely Psalm 137 v1-4 and Psalm 19 v1. Psalm 137 is considered a Psalm of lament and with good reason. The invasion by Babylon into the southern Jewish nation of Judah in 586 BC had resulted in Jerusalem being razed to the ground. As Jeremiah says in Jeremiah 39:8 The Babylonians burned Jerusalem, including the palace and tore down the walls of the city. The beautiful temple built by Solomon was destroyed and the people were marched off into exile in Babylon.

The up beat tempo of Boney M’s song does not reflect the utter despair and remorse the Jewish people felt at not only the destruction of their Holy City, Jerusalem but also the destruction of their political, social and religious systems. Worst of all they felt separated from their God. They wept, they put away their harps and felt they had nothing to sing about. After some 70 years, the Persians came and defeated Babylon and the Jews were freed from exile, they returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their temple and city walls.

The new temple was not nearly as magnificent as Solomon’s Temple and when the older folk, who had remembered Solomon’s Temple, saw the new one, they wept for all that had been lost. This second temple too was destroyed at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD70.

Wow! History! It is amazing! And it is all recorded for our benefit and so that we might learn to trust God.Boney M. – Rivers Of Babylon (ZDF Disco 12.06.1978) (VOD) – YouTube

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