December 07, 2005
209R O You Great Friend
Original Title: "O Thou Great Friend," Theodore Parker (1846), LANGRAN, 10.10.10.10., James Langran (1863); New Title: "O You Great Friend," rev. REH (2005), same hymn tune. Neither the tune nor the hymn appears in Singing the Living Tradition nor The New Century Hymnal. Theodore Parker was a 19th Century Unitarian minister and social reformer, leader within the "Transcendentalist" school and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, perhaps best known for "The Permanent and Transient in Christianity," a sermon given in 1841, on Luke 21:33 "Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my word shall not pass away." That "word," that is, the "truth" which "is still the light," is found in these lyrics; these constitute as well a liberal religious take on John 14:6a (NRSV), "Jesus said ... 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life.'"
1. O you, Great Friend, to all the earth's child-ren,
who once ap-peared in humb-lest guise be-low,
sin to re-buke, to break the cap-tive’s chain,
to call the kin-dred forth from want and woe.
2. You would I sing: Your truth is still the light
which guides the na-tions grop-ing on their way,
stum-bling and fall-ing in dis-ast-rous night,
yet hop-ing ev-er for the per-fect day.
3. Yes, you are still the Life; You are the Way;
The hol-iest know— Light, Life and Way of Heaven;
And they who dear-ly hope and deep-ly pray,
toil by the Truth, Life, Way that you have given.
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