Godspell is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John-Michael Tebelak. It opened off Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has played in various touring companies and revivals many times since. The structure of the musical presents a series of parables of Jesus, based mostly on the Gospel of Matthew, though three of the featured parables are recorded only in the Gospel of Luke. The parables are interspersed with a variety of modern music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns, with the passion of Christ treated briefly near the end of the performance.
Prepare Ye The Way of the Lord
- (John the Baptist) Prepare ye the way of the lord! (X4)
- (All disciples) Prepare ye the way of the lord! (X4)
Save the People
- (Jesus) When wilt thou save the people? Or god of mercy when? Not kings or lords but nations? Not throwns or crowns, but men! Flowers of thy heart, oh god are they. Let them not pass like weeds away. When heritage, a cloudless day. God save the people!
- (Jesus) Shall crime bring crime forever? Strength aiding still the strong. Is it thy will oh father, that men shall tole, for wrong? Oh no say thy mountains! No say thy skys! Men's cloudless sun shall brightly rise! And songs be heard, instead of sighs. God save the people!
- (Jesus and disciples) When wilt thou save the people? Oh god of mercy when? The people lord the people, not thrones or crowns but men
Day by Day
- (Robin) Day by day. Day by day. Oh dear lord, three things I pray. To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly. Day by day.
- (All repeat)
Learn Your Lessons Well
- (Soloist 2) I can see a swath of sinners, sitting yonder and they're acting like a pack of fools. Gazing into space, they let their eyes wander, 'stead of studying the good lord's rules. You better pay attention, build your comprehension- there's gonna be a quiz at your ascension. Not to mention any threat of hell!- But if you're smart you'll learn your lessons well! Every bright description of the promised land mentions You can reach it if you keep alert Learnin' every line and every last commandment May not help you but it couldn't hurt First ya gotta read 'em then ya gotta heed 'em Ya never know when you're gonna need 'em Just as old Elijah said to Jezebel You better start to learn your lessons well!
O Bless the Lord
- (Soloist 3) Oh bless the Lord my soul His praise to thee proclaimed And all that is within me join To bless His holy name Oh yeah Oh bless the Lord my soul His mercies bear in mind Forget not all His benefits The Lord to thee is kind He will not always chide He will with patience wait His wrath is ever slow To rise Oh bless the Lord And ready to abate And ready to abate Oh yeah! Oh bless the lord Bless the lord my soul Oh bless the lord my soul! He pardons all thy sins Prolongs thy feeble breath He heals thine infirmities And ransoms thee from death He clothes thee with his love Upholds thee with his truth And like an eagle he renews The vigor of thy youth And bless His holy name Whose grace hath made thee whole Whose love and kindness crowns Thy days Oh bless the lord Bless the lord my soul Oh bless the lord my soul! Bless the lord my soul Oh bless the lord my soul! Bless the lord my soul Oh bless the lord my soul! Bless the lord, bless the lord My soul! Bless the lord my soul!
All for the Best
- (Jesus) When you feel sad. Or under a curse, your life is bad. Your prospects are worse. Your wife is sighing, crying and your olive tree is dying. Temples are greying, and teeth are decaying, and creditors weighing your purse. Your mood and your robe, are both a deep blue! You'd bet that Job, had nothing on you! But don't forget that when. You. Get. To. Heaven you'll be blessed. Yes it's all for the best!
- (Judas) Some men are born to live at ease. Doing what they please, richer than the bees are in honey. Never growing old, never feeling cold, pulling pots of gold from thin air. The best in every town, best at shaking down, best at making mountains of money. They can't take it with them, but what do they care? They get the center of the meat. Cushions on their feet. Houses on the street where it's sunny. Summers by the sea, winter's warm and free, all of this and we get the rest. But who is the land for? The sun and the sand for? You guesssed, it's all for the best!
- (Judas and Jesus then sing the two verses in counter point, very vaudevillian)
All Good Gifts
- (Telly Leung's Character) We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land.. But it is fed and watered by God's almighty hand.. He sends us snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain... The breezes and the sunshine, and soft refreshing rain... All good gifts around us Are sent from Heaven above Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love...
- (Disciples) We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good, The seedtime and the harvest, our life our health our food, No gifts have we to offer for all thy love imparts But that which thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts!
- (All) All good gifts around us Are sent from Heaven above.. Then thank the Lord, thank the Lord for all his love.. I really wanna thank you Lord! All good gifts around us Are sent from Heaven above.. Then thank the Lord, oh thank the Lord for all his love..
Light of the World
- (Herb) You are the light of the world! You are the light of the world. But a light under a bushel has lost something kind of crucial You've gotta stay bright to be the light of the world!
- (Herb) You are the city of god! You are the city of god! But a city on a hill is kinda of hard to hide it well!
- (Herb) You are salt of the earth. You are the salt of the earth. But a salt that's lost its flavor ain't got much in its favor!
- (All) Let you light so shine before men. Let your light so shine. So that they might know some kindness again. We all need help to feel fine. (Judas) Let's have some wine!
Turn Back, O Man (Forswear Thy Foolish Ways)
(Sonia)Turn back, O man/Forswear thy foolish ways/Old now is Earth/And none may count her days/(Da-da-da-da-da)/Yet thou, her child/Whose head is crowned in flames/Still will not hear/Thine inner God proclaim:
Turn back O, man/(ad-lib)/Turn back O, man/(ad-lib)/Turn back O, man/(ad-lib)
Sonia's character is to ad lib lines directly to the audience, interspersed in the chorus. Some common ones are:
- Would I love to see thee more clearly! (In reference to the earlier song Day By Day)
- This is my good side./So's this one.
- Good evening sir, how's your seat?
- For the first time I'm feeling wicked. (In reference to another of Steven Schwartz' plays, Wicked)
- I come not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to complete.
- Now you have heard that they were told "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", but what I tell you is this. Never set yourself against the man who wrongs you. So if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer him your left.
- Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
- Jesus: How do you remove a speck of sawdust from your brother's eye when all the while there's a big plank in your own?
- Judas: I don't know, how do you remove a speck of sawdust from your brother's eye when all the while there's a big plank in your own?
- Jesus:You hypocrite!
- Judas: Wha-ha?
- Jesus: First you take the plank out of your own eye so you can see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother's eye!
- Judas: Wait a minute! That's no answer to the question!
- Jesus: Did I promise you an answer to the question?
- Judas: Ah... No.
- Jesus: The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be darkness. If then, the only light you have is darkness, the darkness will be doubly dark.
- Gilmer: Hey, I can't see!
- Everyone: Why not?
- Gilmer: I had my eyes shut
- Jesus: Did I ever tell you that I used to read feet?
- Jeffrey: What?
- Jesus: Some people read palms, tea leaves? I read feet. [Jeffrey shakes his head] No, look! [grabs Jeffrey's shoe] Aha, it says rejoice! [everybody crowds around Jeffrey to look at his shoe]
- Jeffrey: ...It says "Keds".
Quotes about Godspell
- GODSPELL is almost anything but conventional. At the beginning of the show Judas is the one who, in the guise of John the Baptist, introduces Jesus to the audience and to the soon-to-be disciples. Subsequently he's seen as Jesus' best friend-probably a childhood buddy. He's frequently Jesus' "stage manager", making sure that the stage is set up right for the next event, parable, or game. Unfortunately, Judas also never seems to really "get" what Jesus is talking about. As the show progresses, Judas undergoes a conversion just like everyone else does, but his is in the opposite direction. Where the disciples move from being confused uncommitted individuals into being a community of believers, Judas gradually moves further and further away from Jesus' teachings until he finally betrays and almost reluctantly executes him.
The character of Judas is rather confusing until you quit trying to see him as either "evil" or as Jesus' opposite. Just like the other disciples, he's another aspect of Everyman-the darker, less certain side. He's really just a regular guy who's not quite able to fall in with Jesus' teachings as much as everyone else is.
- Above all, the first act of Godspell must be about the formation of a community. Eight separate individuals, led and guided by Jesus (who is helped by his assistant, John the Baptist/Judas), gradually come to form a communal unit. This happens through the playing of games and the telling and absorption of lessons, and each of the eight individuals has his or her own moment of committing to Jesus and to the community. When Jesus applies clown make-up to their faces after "Save the People," he is having them take on an external physical manifestation that they are his disciples, temporarily separating them from the rest of society. But the internal journey of each character is separate and takes its individual course and period of time. Exactly when and why this moment of commitment occurs is one of the important choices each of the actors must make, in collaboration of course with the director. At the end of the first act, the audience is invited to join the community through the sharing of wine (or grape juice), mingling with the actors during intermission.
- (John the Baptist) Prepare ye the way of the lord!(x4)
- (Everyone Joins In) Prepare ye the way of the lord(x4)
Save the People
- (Jesus) When will thou save the people? Oh god of mercy when? Not kings or lords but nations, not throwns or crowns, but men! Flowers of thy heart, oh god are they. Let them not pass like weeds away! When heritage, a sunless day. God save the people!
- (Jesus) Must crime bring crime forever, strength in aiding still the strong. Is it thy will of father, that men shall toil... for wrong? Oh "No!" say thy mountains. "No!" say thy skys. Men's cloudless sun shall brightly rise! And songs be heard, instead of sighs. God save the people.