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God is Alive, Magic is Afoot

By Leonard Cohen; recorded by Buffy Sainte-Marie; shared by Susan Proctor


When I was a teenager, I left the Methodist church and joined LRY, Liberal Religious Youth, of the Unitarian Church in Birmingham. At one point, we decided to each bring a song that had affected our hearts in a very powerful way. Below is the song that I shared. Now, at sixty, I find that this song has stayed with me, grows in meaning and strength and comfort.

What we knew when young, is often our greatest truth. This is to me. I am very grateful to these artists. - Susan Proctor


Listen to the recording by Buffy Sainte-Marie

God is alive, magic is afoot
God is alive, magic is afoot
God is alive, magic is afoot
God is afoot, magic is alive
Alive is afoot, magic never died
God never sickened

Many poor men lied
Many sick men lied
Magic never weakened
Magic never hid

Magic always ruled
God is afoot, God never died
God was ruler
Though his funeral lengthened
Though his mourners thickened
Magic never fled
Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live
Though his words were twisted

The naked magic thrived
Though his death was published
Round and round the world
The heart did not believe

Many hurt men wondered
Many struck men bled
Magic never faltered
Magic always lead

Many stones were rolled
But God would not lie down
Many wild men lied
Many fat men listened
Though they offered stones
Magic still was fed
Though they locked their coffers
God was always served
Magic is afoot, God is alive
Alive is afoot

Alive is in command

Many weak men hungered
Many strong men thrived
Though they boast of solitude
God was at their side

Nor the dreamer in his cell
Nor the captain on the hill
Magic is alive
Though his death was pardoned
Round and round the world

The heart would not believe

Though laws were carved in marble
They could not shelter men
Though altars built in parliaments
They could not order men

Police arrested magic and magic went with them
Mmmmm.... for magic loves the hungry
But magic would not tarry
It moves from arm to arm

It would not stay with them
Magic is afoot

It cannot come to harm
It rests in an empty palm
It spawns in an empty mind
But magic is no instrument
Magic is the end
Many men drove magic
But magic stayed behind
Many strong men lied
They only passed through magic
And out the other side
Many weak men lied
They came to God in secret
And though they left Him nourished
They would not tell who healed
Though mountains danced before them
They said that God was dead
Though his shrouds were hoisted
The naked God did live
This I mean to whisper to my mind
This I mean to laugh within my mind This I mean my mind to serve

Til' service is but magic
Moving through the world
And mind itself is magic
Coursing through the flesh
And flesh itself is magic
Dancing on a clock

And time itself
The magic length of God

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