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Under a cloud?

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To consider the effects of sudden changes in our relationships.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask the students, How good is your memory?

    Explain that you are going to ask the students some questions from history.

    - What was one of the biggest news headlines yesterday?
    - What did you have for tea yesterday?

  2. When the students look confused, point out that a lot can happen in 24 hours. Some things we remember vividly, whereas others seem inconsequential and are easily forgotten.

  3. Ask the students whether they have heard the song ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles. Explain that it is all about the difference that 24 hours can make.

    Play the song ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles.

  4. The song suggests that, for the person in the song, everything was great in the past, but now things have gone wrong.

    Explain that you are now going to look at some of the lines in more detail to try to discover what might have gone wrong.

  5. Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
    Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.

    These lines describe how the singer felt yesterday compared to how they feel today.

    Explain that changes can happen quickly in our lives. We may face illness, the death of a loved one, financial difficulty, family breakdown and so on. These changes can change the way in which we view life and can make us very sad.

  6. Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be.
    There’s a shadow hanging over me.

    Explain that the singer feels as if something has gone badly wrong. They feel like there is a dark shadow hanging over their life. It is as if they were once happy, but now they are sad. The sun has gone behind a cloud so that it has gone dark and they feel cold.

    Explain that sudden changes can shatter our contentment, our confidence and our sense of value or purpose.

  7. Why she had to go
    I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
    I said something wrong

    Explain that it seems that a relationship has broken down and the other person will no longer speak to the singer. Communication has stopped, probably because one party has hurt or injured the other. This has left the singer feeling sad.

    Point out that when relationships break down, people can be left feeling very confused and guilty.

  8. Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
    Now I need a place to hide away.

    Explain that the singer wants to run from the problem that they are facing. It is easier to hide than to face up to what is going on.

    Point out that when relationships break down, people can be left feeling broken and vulnerable.

  9. Explain that change will happen to all of us, and it may happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Relationships and friendships are very important to us and if they go wrong, we can be left feeling insecure and depressed. This happens to adults, too.

  10. Remind the students that if any of them ever feel sad, lonely or like a dark cloud is hanging over them, it is important for them to speak to someone. There are always people available in school who will be able to help in some way.

Time for reflection

When Jesus was on earth, he called people to come and follow him. Many gave up jobs and sources of income to do so. They were sure that Jesus was the promised Messiah who was going to change the fate of the whole nation of Israel.

However, things did not turn out as they expected. They witnessed Jesus becoming more and more unpopular with his own people, undermining the religious leaders of the day and preaching a very different message from what they were expecting. They were confused and then, to top it all off, Jesus was killed and everything that they had given up their lives for came crashing down.

Jesus closest followers, the disciples, spent days hidden away in an upper room, too afraid and disillusioned to move around the town. They could have sung The Beatles lament of ‘Yesterday’ with real meaning!

However, all was not lost. Jesus rose from the dead and came to tell them that he would never leave them and never forsake them. Life would not always be easy for them, but Jesus would help them to face their tomorrows. That made all the difference in the world to the disciples.

Dear God,
Sometimes, we feel sad and lonely.
Thank you that you always care for us.
Thank you that there are people we can speak to if life feels tough and we feel that a cloud is hanging over us.
Please give us the courage to share our feelings.
Please help us to be good listeners to other people.

Publication date: July 2019   (Vol.21 No.7)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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