The first volume of Calvin Miller’s mid-1970s The Singer Trilogy was a retelling of the Gospel story in mythic or epic form. The second volume, The Song, focuses on the period covered by the New Testament books of Acts and the epistles, and especially the persecutions in Rome.
The Song tells the story of four characters – Sarkon, whom we met in The Singer when he was called World-Hater; Madman, the character from The Singer who was liberated from the demons that possessed him; and a new character, Everyman, a young man much enamored with science and who rejects any notion of a Creator; and Anthem, an original follower of the Singer. The story begins in the Great Walled City, the place where the Singer was killed and rose again. Soon a persecution against the Singer’s followers breaks out.
Everyman and Anthem sail to Urbis, capital of Terra, “the shining temple-city of all the mountain gods.” One of the passengers is Praxis, known as the Builder, who is designing a great temple for Urbis and soon will be commissioned to sculpt a statue of its greatest god – one that bears the likeness of Sarkon.
The Song reads almost like a fantasy story, and one wonders how much Miller may have influenced whole generations of Christian fantasy writers. And while it may be tempting to identify the fictional characters with New Testament counterparts, the author did not write an exact transposing of the events and people of the New Testament.
Miller (1936-2012) was a pastor at Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska for 25 years and then joined the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for seven years and later the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He was the author of some 40 books on popular theology, writing, and other subjects, but was best known for The Singer Trilogy.
The Song is an entertaining and thought-provoking volume in its own right, apart from its predecessor or its successor. Miller had an essential grasp of human nature, and his characters seem almost stunningly contemporary.
Next week: “The Finale” by Calvin Miller.