One of Bob Ayala‘s songs was the subject of my last post, which brought to mind another of his songs that I enjoy. To see the full significance of what he writes in this song, it helps to know some of his history. Ayala lost his vision as a youth, but he did not let it him embitter him. Instead, he turned his energies to singing about Jesus in many different ways.

He was also apparently a fan of the works of C.S. Lewis. On his first album, Joy By Surprise, released in 1976, Ayala made his title song a variation of Lewis’ autobiography “Surprised By Joy“. In that book, Lewis described his journey from atheism to Christianity, in his life-long search for Joy. Both Lewis and Ayala find this Joy they were seeking to be fulfilled in none other than Jesus himself. Jesus was discovered to be the embodiment and expression of Joy.

These comparisons to Lewis’ works extend further with the artwork that he had placed on the cover of his Joy By Surprise album. As best as I can tell, there appears to have been one cover for the vinyl LP version of the album (which I do not own), and a different cover for the cassette version (which I do own).

(LP version)
(cassette cover) (LP cover)

In both of these views, it recreates the scene from Lewis’ The Last Battle, in which a door in a stable in Narnia is actually a doorway to the true Narnia, an extension of Aslan’s country. Like the characters who represent the Narnia that has remained true to Aslan, these album covers depict Bob Ayala himself walking through that door from our world to the next world, and meeting Aslan face to face. And Bob actually sees his Savior! The song lyrics reflect this: “Like scales, my illusions are falling from my eyes“. Enjoy this classic!

You know it’s so good to be alive
For the first time in my life
Good to know, to be sure who I am
And all of my illusions
Are falling from my eyes
Since the day I met Joy by surprise

In my search for the truth
All I ever found were lies
Must have turned every stone along the way
And following the path they made
It caught me by surprise
When I looked up into the Carpenter’s eyes

Like scales my illusions are falling from my eyes…

It’s so good to be alive
Now that I’ve been born again
Good to know, to be sure who I am
And all of the confusion
Is passing me by
Since the day Jesus came into my life

Since the day
Since the day
Since the day
Since the day I met Joy by surprise…


3 responses to “Surprise!”

  1. Hi. I am also a big fan of Bob’s music. I guess you could say a second generation fan. I grew up listening to his records in the 70’s. He has a couple of new CD’s I happened to get ahold of. I ran into him a few years back and was able to spend some time with him. We even had a little jam session. That was the honor of a life time. Last I heard, he moved to Vermont or something like that. I’m still trying to find if you can get his older music out there. Can you get “Joy by Surpirse” on CD?

  2. I first heard Bob at ORU 76-78. He visited the university. I think it was a concert in chapel and he brought his sister ( or maybe his wife, I forget)who spoke.. Anyway I bought the album and enjoyed it a great deal. Who know where it has gotten off to. I too would like to know if it is available on CD or download.

  3. I believe the LP was released with 2 diferent covers . I’ve got the LP and it has the cover you identify as the cassette cover although I remember seeing the other cover, too. I think the one on the right was released first.

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