We Are the Music Makers

We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams…
–Willie Wonka

For many years I was aware of the phrase above from one of my favorite movies of all time – Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. What I didn’t realize, however, was that this line wasn’t original to Willie, but in fact was the opening line of a longer poem titled “Ode” by Arthur O’Shaughnessy. It turns out that the phrase above is prolifically quoted, used in many, many other works. However, in reading through the entire poem, I also learned that the phrase “movers and shakers” originated from the mind of O’Shaughnessy.

As we think about change in the church – both in the local congregations we serve, and in the broader United Methodist Church, it seems to my that O’Shaughnessy’s poem offers insight to the task we face:


WE are the music-makers, 
  And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers, 
  And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers, 
  On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers 
  Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities, 
  And out of a fabulous story 
  We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure, 
  Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure 
  Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying 
  In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing, 
  And Babel itself with our mirth; 
And o’erthrew them with prophesying 
  To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying, 
  Or one that is coming to birth.

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