April 19, 2005

41R O God, Your Wonders

Original Title: "Father, Thy Wonders Do Not Singly Stand," Jones Very (1839, 1846), OLD FIRST, 10.10.10.10., later form of melody in Genevan Psalter (1542); New Title: "O God, Your Wonders (Do Not Singly Stand)," rev. REH (2007), TOULON, 10.10.10.10., abridged from Genevan Psalter (1551). The hymn is based on two poems, both called "The Spirit-Land," one written in 1839 and which begins "Father, thy wonders do not singly stand; the second, written in 1846 of the same title, begins "Open our eyes . . ." Very was a Unitarian minister, and Transcendentalist poet, contemporary of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who is said to have "gone mad" at an early age. "Spirit land" seems to be an invocation (albeit infrequent) of heaven even in conventional Christian hymns. For example, Samuel Greg's 1854 hymn, "Stay, Master, Upon This Heavenly Hill," entreats Jesus to "let us linger a little longer . . . and catch a glimpse into spirit land." Very seems, by contrast, to place this spirit land not somewhere distant or obscure, but rather somewhere "richly . . . displayed," in an "enchanted land" that lies ever around us. God gave us inspiration and intuition; Very seems to tell us we should not waste these precious gifts that are "at hand;" that is, available to us. Such is the language Jesus used too in speaking of the Kingdom of God, in images so often misunderstood by his followers. Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15. "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?,” Mark 10:17. "When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him," Luke 5:11 (NRSV). The hymn does not appear in Singing the Living Tradition or in The New Century Hymnal.

TOULON (10.10.10.10.)

1. O God! your won-ders do not sing-ly stand,
nor far re-moved where feet have sel-dom strayed;
A-round us ev-er lies th'en-chant-ed land;
Rich mar-vels to your child-ren thus dis-played.

2. In find-ing you are all things round us found;
In los-ing you are all things lost be-side;
Ears have we but in vain strange voic-es sound,
and to our eyes the vi-sion is de-nied.


3. O-pen our eyes that we that world may see,
o-pen our ears that we your voice may hear,
and in the spir-it-land may ev-er be,
and feel your pre-sence with us al-ways near.

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April 30, 2005

49R Come, Mighty Spirit, Penetrate

Original Title: "Come, Mighty Spirit, Penetrate," Horatius Bonar (1861), TALLIS' ORDINAL, C.M., Thomas Tallis (1567); New Title: Same hymn title, no changes to lyrics, same hymn tune. Bonar (1808-1889) was a Presbyterian, who eventually joined the Free Church of Scotland. He wrote of 600 hymns, and thus is aptly called "the prince of Scottish hymnwriters." At his memorial service, it was said "His hymns were writ­ten in very var­ied cir­cum­stances, some­times timed by the tink­ling brook that bab­bled near him; some­times at­tuned to the or­dered tramp of the ocean, whose crest­ed waves broke on the beach by which he wan­dered; some­times set to the rude mu­sic of the rail­way train that hurried him to the scene of du­ty; some­times mea­sured by the si­lent rhy­thm of the mid­night stars that shone above him." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV), "God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline." "Uphold me with thy free spirit," Psalm 51:12 (KJV). "Spirit of might," Isaiah 11:2. Psalm 68:9, "Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary," see also Psalm 72:6, Hebrews 6:7, Psalms 104:8. Psalms 4:6, "Lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us," see also Isaiah 2:5. Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." The hymn is not included in Singing the Living Tradition nor in The New Century Hymnal.

TALLIS' ORDINAL (C.M.)

1. Come, Migh-ty Spir-it, pe-ne-trate
this heart and soul of mine,
and my whole be-ing with thy grace
per-vade, O Life Di-vine!

2. As this clear air sur-rounds the earth
thy grace a-round me roll
as the fresh light per-vades the air,
so pierce and fill my soul.

3. As from these clouds drops down in love
the pre-cious sum-mer rain,
so from thy-self pour down the flood
that fresh-ens all a-gain.

4. Thus life with-in our life-less hearts
shall make its glad a-bode,
and we shall shine in beau-teous light,
filled with the light of God. A-men.

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May 14, 2005

57R Spirit of Truth, You Who Make Bright

Original Title: "Spirit of Truth, Who Makest Bright," Thomas Hornblower Gil (1819-1906), WARRINGTON, L.M., Ralph Harrison (1784); New Title: "Spirit of Truth, You Who Make Bright," Thomas Hornblower Gill, rev. REH (2005), VON HIMMEL HOCH, L.M., Geistliche Lieder, Leipzig (1539). For biographical information about Gil, see no. 9R. "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth," John 16:13 (New Living Translation), see also John 15:26, 1 John 4:6. " For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you," Romans 8:2, see also Romans 8:13, 15:13, 15:19, 1 Samuel 10:16, 1 Corinthians 14:2, 2 Corinthians 6:6, Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 1:12. "The spirit of life from God entered them, and they stood up," Revelation 11:11, see also Revelation 22:17. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth," John 4:24. The hymn does not appear in Singing the Living Tradition nor in The New Century Hymnal.

VON HIMMEL HOCH (L.M.)

1. Spir-it of Truth, you who make bright
all souls that long for heaven-ly light,
ap-pear, and on our sad days shine;
Des-cend, and be our Guide Di-vine.

2. Spir-it of Power, whose strength does dwell
full in the souls that love you well,
un-to these beat-ing hearts draw near,
and be our dai-ly Quick-en-er

3. Spir-it of Life, who makes all glad
each brok-en heart by sin made sad,
pour on these mourn-ing souls your cheer;
Grant your bless-ings, O Com-for-ter!


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December 08, 2005

210R A Voice by Jordan's Shore

Original Title: "A Voice by Jordan's Shore," Samuel Longfellow (1864), CAMBRIDGE (S.M.), Ralph Harrison (c. 1784), alt.; New Title: Same hymn title, rev. REH (2005), ST. AUGUSTINE (S.M.D.), from Chorale Songs for Four Voices (1769). Samuel Longfellow, a Unitarian poet, edited the first Hymns of the Spirit (1864); this hymn appeared therein. The hymn nor the tune appears in Singing the Living Tradition nor in The New Century Hymnal. The lyrics speak to what in Greek is called "metanoia," or what is misleadingly translated as "repentance" in English. Longfellow chose "reform," which is closer to the mark; this new version includes variations on "re-think," lest there be any taint of overly zealous piety. "Metanoia" cried out both John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2, as well as Jesus in Mark 1:15, "the reign of God is near, be new-minded (i.e., repent, or literally, re-think) and believe in this good news." The Jordan and a "baptism of repentance," and a "voice" in the wilderness, elements in the hymn, are all mentioned in Luke 3:3-4.

ST. AUGUSTINE (S.M.D.)

1. A voice by Jor-dan's shore,
'Be new-mind-ed' I hear:
Re-form, re-think, be just e're-more;
God's grac-es ere draw near.
A voice in Gal-i-lee:
'A new mind' now the cheer;
Love God, and neigh-bor too, for see,
God's mer-cies ere draw near.

2. O voice of du-ty, still
speak forth, I hear with awe;
With you I trust a sove-reign will,
o-bey an in-ner law.
O high-er voice of love,
yet speak a word in me;
Through du-ty let me up-ward move,
to your pure li-ber-ty!


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