New Formation Sermon



In the sand
The beach
The arms outstretched
Fearsome waist
Elbows in triangle
The bracing chill of the market is no friend
Like pictures of yours from the fifties

One foot two twelve two three four full trip
Dip walk
Walk side sand trip skip skid crack

In sand 
It's a different fright
Many become a rabbit in the headlights
And though the chill brings a night of transformation  (2)
Trip walk sand trip skip crack


1. Cheekily going head to head with "Barmy" in a Fall online forum poll, this song lost 80 to 5, clear proof that 80 out of 85 Fall forum members prefer "Barmy" to this song.

The New Apostolic Reformation is the title of a Protestant movement within the Pentacostal and Charismatic churches (such as Foursquare and Assembly of God) which holds that there are present day prophets, and that these should govern the church. Adherents of the movement advocate "spiritual warfare" against the hierarchy of demons that runs the world. NAR Christians believe that prophecy is possible for all believers, although they stipulate that any genuine revelation cannot contradict scripture. They are also Dominionists, believing that Christians should hold secular office in order to rule the world.

There's no particular reason to think that Smith had NAR (which he may not even be aware of) in mind when writing these lyrics, and indeed the laconic and suggestive lyrics don't yield to the listener an immediate understanding of their relation to the song's title, if they do so at all. But it seems possible that the "New Formation" here is meant to indicate something more drastic than a "Reformation," but in some ways along the same lines, an agnostic or atheist historical transition, as the song seems to describe a feeling of disorientation experienced by someone standing "in sand." From Matthew chapter seven:

24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Thus the lyrics may describe someone who does not heed the words of Jesus, indicating something even more drastic than the Reformation--a new "Formation"-- of Luther and Calvin. This would be the passage out of religion altogether. In place of a system of beliefs that hold society together, we have "the bracing chill of the market." The (Re)formation/transformation facing us would then be an uncertain and frightening thing; unlike NAR, which proclaims the validity of modern-day prophecy, MES's New Formation voids prophecy and leaves us to our own devices, which scares the crap out of us.

This was recorded around the time of Are You Are Missing Winner, when the Fall had a brand new lineup with MES the only holdover from The Unutterable (although Ben Pritchard, who doesn't appear on this song, played on "Dr. Bucks' Letter"). Thus, like "Reformation!" from another year and another new band, the title may also passingly refer to the Fall itself. 


2. Zack notes that "'Many become a rabbit in the headlights/Involving the bracing chill of the market/A night of transformation' turns up about half an hour into MES's 2002 solo album Pander Panda Panzer, just before 'Dissolute Singer.'"



Comments (1)

  • 1. Zack | 24/02/2017
"Many become a rabbit in the headlights / Involving the bracing chill of the market / A night of transformation" turns up about half an hour into Pander Panda Panzer, just before "Dissolute Singer."

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