March 18, 2005

18R O Friend, You Are Calling

Original Title: "Father, Thou Art Calling," James Vila Blake (1880), BROMLEY COMMON, 12.13.12.10, Martin Shaw (1915) (alternative tune: NICAEA, Irregular, John Bacchus Dykes (1861)); New Title: "O Friend, You Are Calling," rev. REH (2006), NICAEA. The revised lyrics do not banish "Father," which one still finds in the body of the hymn. The holy is in addition addressed, however, as "Lady Wisdom." James Vila Blake was an American Unitarian. Neither Singing the Living Tradition nor The New Century Hymnal contains it. "The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters." Psalm 29:3; see also Job 38:1-41.

NICAEA (Irregular)

1. O Friend, you are call-ing, call-ing to us plain-ly,
to the spir-it comes your lov-ing mes-sage ev-er-more;
Ho-ly One up-lift us, nor for-ev-er vain-ly, stand call-ing us
and wait-ing at the door.

2. In the whirl-ing tem-pest, and the storm you've lived in,
in the rain, and in the sweet-ness of the af-ter-glow;
sum-mer's gold-en boun-ty, win-ter's snow you've giv-en,
and bloom-ing mea-dows where sweet wat-ers flow.


3. Clear-er still and dear-er is your voice ap-peal-ing,
deep with-in the spir-it's se-cret be-ing speak-ing low.
En-ter La-dy Wis-dom, now the truth re-veal-ing:
From all van-i-ty free us as we go.

4. In you, liv-ing, mov-ing, un-to you up-lift-ing
all your joy-ous, hope-ful trust that gives our
hearts re-pose; Fa-ther, we a-dore you, ask-ing naught
nor fear-ing; Far we wan-der not from your Soul of souls. A-men.

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April 22, 2005

44R True Stewards, Earth

Original Title: "Thou, Earth, Art Ours, and Ours to Keep," Mary Howitt, GASTORIUS, 8.8.8.8.8., adapted from Severus Gastorius (1681); New Title: "True Stewards, Earth" rev. REH (2007), SUSSEX CAROL, 8.8.8.8.8.8., Traditional English melody, arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams (1919). Mary Howitt was an English Quaker and poet, who wrote extensively on nature themes. Perhaps her best-known poem is "The Spider and the Fly." Here the lyrics clearly echo Genesis: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good," Genesis 1:11-22; see also Genesis 1:29, Genesis 8:22, Genesis 27:28. In the Christian scriptures, seed and harvest are sometimes metaphors for the God's word, e.g., Luke 8:11, Matthew 13:3, 32, John 12:24, see also Luke 13:6-9 (the parable of the fig treet). That the earth is "ours" is echoed in the Psalms, e.g., Psalm 115:16; the likeness of "darkness and light" in Psalm 139:12; God gives grain/corn in Psalm 65:9. Trees and wind are mentioned specifically in Isaiah 7:2; the first and latter rain in Deuteronomy 11:14. The hymn appears in neither Singing the Living Tradition nor The New Century Hymnal.

SUSSEX CAROL (8.8.8.8.8.8.)

1. True stew-ards, earth, we are for thee,
who in faith la-bor in thy reign;
the green-ing grass, the corn, the tree,
spring-time and har-vest come from thee,
the ear-ly and the lat-ter rain,
the ear-ly and the lat-ter rain.

2. O earth, the earth, thy sum-mer-time,
fresh with the dews, the sun-shine bright,
with gold-en clouds in eve-ning hours,
with sing-ing birds and fra-grant flowers,
crea-tures of beau-ty and de-light,
crea-tures of beau-ty and de-light.

3. Thou, earth, our earth, when light is dim,
and leaf-less stands the state-ly tree,
when from the north the fierce winds blow,
when fall-eth fast the mant-ling snow.
O earth, thou speak-est still to me,
O earth, thou speak-est still to me.

4. The earth is yours and mine, all life!
Ours is all worlds, all suns that shine,
sha-dow and light, and life and death,
what-e'er all space in-ha-bi-teth:
Life's im-age bears the true di-vine,
Life's im-age bears the true di-vine.

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April 25, 2005

45R Morning, So Fair to See

Original Title: "Morning, So Fair to See," Vincent Brown Silliman (1934), ST. ELIZABETH, 6.6.9.6.6.8., Silesian Folksong; New Title: Same hymn title, rev. REH (2006), same hymn tune. ST. ELIZABETH is also unhappily (albeit for fanciful reasons) known as CRUSADER'S HYMN. Silliman was a Unitarian and humanist, and one of the editors of the Hymns for the Celebration of Life, published in 1964, the first hymnal produced by the Unitarian Universalist Association after consolidation in 1961. As the giver of the "Berry Street Address" at UUA's 1977 General Assembly in Ithaca, Silliman said "hymn tinkering is a long-standing practice. Some tinkers have spread so widely that the original is all but forgotten." Another recast version of Silliman's hymn can be found in Singing the Living Tradition, at no. 42; it does not appear in The New Century Hymnal. Morning's beauty is a topic in Genesis; e.g., Genesis 1:5-31. Morning is a time when people went to the temple; e.g., Luke 21:38, John 8:2; morning also bespeaks glory; e.g., Song of Solomon 6:10 ("Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun"); see also Isaiah 58:8.

ST. ELIZABETH (6.6.9.6.6.8.)

1. Morn-ing, so fair to see,*
Night, veiled in mys-ter-y,
Glo-rious the earth and res-plen-dent skies!
Pil-grims, we march a-long,
Sing-ing our Pil-grim song,
As through an earth-ly par-a-dise.

2. Green are the grow-ing trees;
Blue are the flash-ing seas;
Glo-rious each won-der the sea-sons bring.
Bright-er is faith's sur-mise
shin-ing in Pil-grims' eyes:
Bright-er the com-mon-weal we sing.

3. Age af-ter age we rise,
'Neath the e-ter-nal skies,
In-to the light from the sha-dowed past:
Still shall our Pil-grim song,
Bou-yant and brave and strong,
Re-sound while life and moun-tains last.

*Or 'shines so brightly.' A version of the hymn less reticient about the word "fair," and thus much closer to the original text, might read as follows:

1. Morn-ing, so fair to see,
Night, veiled in mys-ter-y,
Glo-rious the earth and res-plen-dent skies!
Pil-grims, we march a-long,
Sing-ing our Pil-grim song,
As through an earth-ly par-a-dise.

2. Fair are the verdant trees;
fair are the flash-ing seas;
Fair is each won-der the sea-sons bring.
Fair-er is faith's sur-mise
shin-ing in Pil-grims' eyes:
Fair-er the com-mon-weal we sing.

3. Age af-ter age we rise,
'Neath the e-ter-nal skies,
In-to the light from the sha-dowed past:
Still shall our Pil-grim song,
Bou-yant and brave and strong,
Re-sound while life and moun-tains last.

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April 26, 2005

46R God of All Majesty and Might

Original Name: "Lord of All Majesty and Might," George Wallace Briggs (1933), VATER UNSER, 8.8.8.8.8.8., later form of melody in V. Schumann’s Gesangbuch (1539), harmony by J.S. Bach; New Name: "God of All Majesty and Might," rev. REH (2005), same hymn tune. Briggs was an English Anglican priest, born in 1875. The title echoes "In thine hand is power and might," 1 Chronicles 29:12; the "unfathomed deep" of the lyrics seems to correlate with Psalm 95:4, "In [God's] hand are the deep places of the earth." The last verse seems to take from Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:9, "for we know in part, and we prophesy in part." The Imago Dei is echoed in verse four, from Genesis 1:27. The discussion of wisdom in verse 2 resonantes with the passages "Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom," Job 36:5 and "God only wise," Romans 16:27a. The hymn appears in neither Singing the Living Tradition nor The New Century Hymnal.

VATER UNSER (8.8.8.8.8.8.)

1. God of all maj~es-ty and might,
Whose pres-ence fills th'un-fathom-ed deep,
Where-in un-count-ed worlds of light
through count-less a-ges vi-gil keep;
E-ter-nal One, can such as we,
Frail mor-tal souls, know aught of thee?

2. Be-yond all know~ledge thou art wise,
With wis-dom that trans-cends all thought;
Yet still we seek with strain-ing eyes,
Yea, seek as our an-ces-tors sought;
Nor will we from the quest de-part,
Til we shall know thee as thou art.


3. Frail though our form,~and brief our day,
Our mind has bridged the gulf of years,
Our pu-ny ba-lan-ces can weigh,
The mag-ni-tude of star-ry spheres:
With-in us is e-ter-ni-ty;
Whence come this, O God, but from thee?


4. For when thy wond~rous works we scan,
And mind gives ans-wer back to mind,
Thine im-age shines in the hu-man;
And seek-ing we shall sure-ly find.
Mor-tals, our her-i-tage we claim;
Shall not thy child-ren know thy name?


5. We know in part;~e-nough we know
to walk with thee, and walk a-right;
And thou shalt guide us as we go,
And lead us in-to full-er light,
Til when we stand be-fore thy throne,
We know at last as we are known. A-men.

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May 23, 2005

63R Mysterious Presence, Source of All

Original Title: "Mysterious Presence, Source of All," Seth Curtis Brooks (1866), WAREHAM, L.M., William Knapp (1736); New Title: Same hymn title, rev. REH (2006), LUCIS CREATOR, L.M., Angers Church Melody. Seth Curtis Beach was an American Unitarian. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above." James 1:17 (KJV). Psalm 36:6, "Thy judgments are a great deep." Psalm 73:16, "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me." Psalm 77:19, "Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known." Romans 11:33, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unserachable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" "God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," Genesis 2:7 (NRSV); see also Genesis 1:30, 6:17, 7:15. "For with you is the fountain of life," Psalm 36:9, see also Psalm 68:26, Proverbs 5:18, 13:14, 14:17, 16:22, 18:4. "They have forsaken the fountain of the living water, the Lord," Jeremiah 17:13. Ezekiel 37:9, "Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy . . . and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." John 3:8 (KJV), "The wind bloweth where it listeth . . . so is everyone that is born of the spirit." Acts 2:2, "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven of a rushing mighty wind." The hymn appears in Singing the Living Tradition as no. 92, to WAREHAM, using thee/thou. It does not appear in The New Century Hymnal.

LUCIS CREATOR (L.M.)

1. Mys-ter-ious Pre-sence, Source of all;
The world with-out, the soul with-in,
Foun-tain of life, O hear our call,
and pour your liv-ing wat-ers in!

2. You breathe with-in the rush-ing wind;
Your Spir-it stirs in leaf and flower;
Nor will you from the will-ing mind
with-hold your light and love and power.


3. Your hand un-seen to ac-cents clear
a-woke the psal-mist’s tremb-ling lyre,
and touch-ed the lips of holy seer
with flame from your own al-tar fire.

4. That touch di-vine, ev-er im-part;
Still give the pro-phets' burn-ing word;
And, vo-cal in each wait-ing heart,
let liv-ing psalms of praise be heard.

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May 24, 2005

67R O Thou Whose Power Over Moving Worlds Presides

Original Title: "O Thou Whose Power Over Moving World Presides," Boethius (480-525), trans. Samuel Johnson (1750), OLD 124TH (10.10.10.10), Genevan Psalter (1551); New Title: Same hymn title, rev. REH (2006), same hymn tune. Boethius was a Roman statesman; his most famous work was The Consolations of Philosophy. He has been thought both a Christian and indeed a Christian martyr, yet his most famous work does not mention Christ or the Christian religion, and seems in the eyes of some to speak only the language of neo-Platonism (in a narrow sense, "a philosophical dialogue modelled on strictly pagan productions"). Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), also the name of the Unitarian hymnwriter from the 19th century (see no. 219R), here refers instead to the Englishman from a century before. Johnson was the subject of perhaps the earliest and best-known biography in English, written by John Boswell. A stanza of Boethius' original Latin has been added. "legem pone mihi Domine in via tua et dirige me in semita recta propter inimicos meos," Pslam 26:11 (Vulgate); "But as for me, I will go on in my upright ways: be my saviour, and have mercy on me," Psalm 26:11 (BBE); see also Proverbs 15:24, 12:28. "Dominus solus dux eius fuit et non erat cum eo deus alienus," Deuteronomy 32:12 (Vulgate); "So the Lord only was his guide, no other god was with him," Deuteronomy 32:12 (BBE); Exodus 13:21, 15:13, Acts 1:16. "[T]imor Domini principium," Proverbs 1:7a (Vulgate); "Start with God- the first step in learning is bowing down to God," Proverbs 1:7a (The Message); see also Proverbs 4:7, Proverbs 9:10. "[Christ] is a beginning, a first-born out of the dead," Colossians 1:18a (YLT); "[] qui est principium primogenitus ex mortuis," Colossians 1:18a (Vulgate). Romans 11:33 (KJV), "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" 1 Corinthians 2:7 (KJV), "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory," see also 1 Corinthians 1:24. Psalms 104:24 (KVJ), "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom, hast thou made them all," see also Psalm 136:5, Proverbs 3:19. Jeremiah 10:12 (KJV), "He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion." Genesis 1:14, "And God said, let there be lights," see also Genesis 7:24. The hymn is not included in Singing the Living Tradition nor in The New Century Hymnal.

OLD 124TH (10.10.10.10)

1. O Thou whose power o'er mov-ing worlds pre-sides,
whose voice cre-a-ted, and whose wis-dom guides,
On the dim earth in pure ef-ful-gence shine,
and cheer the cloud-ed mind with light di-vine,
and cheer the cloud-ed mind with light di-vine.

2. 'Tis thine a-lone to calm the re-verent breast,
with si-lent con-fi-dence and ho-ly rest;
from thee, great God! we spring, to thee we tend,
Path, Mo-tive, Guide, O-rig-i-nal, and End!
Path, Mo-tive, Guide, O-rig-i-nal, and End!

a. Tu nam-que se-re-num,
Tu re-qui-es tran-quil-la pi-is.
Te cer-ne-re fi-nis,
Prin-ci-pi-um, Vec-tor, Dux,
Se-mi-ta, Ter-mi-nus, I-dem.

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June 11, 2005

80R Immortal Love, Forever Full

Lyrics: John Greenleaf Whittier (1866), rev. REH (2005); Music: DUNDEE (C.M.), Scottish Psalter (1615). Psalm 89:1 (NRSV), "I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord;" see also Psalm 89:28. Genesis 1:2a, "[A] wind from God swept over the face of the waters." Isaiah 35:6, "[W]aters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;" see also Isaiah 41:17-18, Jeremiah 2:13, 17:13, Ezekiel 47:1-12. John 4:14, "The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life;" see also Revelation 21:6. 2 Corinthians 3:6b, "[T]he letter kills, but the Spirit gives life;" John 1:9, "The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world."

DUNDEE (C.M.)

1. Im-mort-al Love, for-ev-er full,
for-ev-er flow-ing free,
for-ev-er shared, for-ev-er whole,
a nev-er ebb-ing sea!

2. Blow, winds of God, a-wake and blow
the mists of earth a-way:
Shine out, O Light di-vine, and show
thy wide and vast ar-ray.


3. O God and Sove-reign of us all,
what-e'er our name or sign,
we own thy sway, we hear thy call,
we test our lives by thine.

4. The let-ter fails, the sys-tems fall,
and ev-ery sym-bol wanes;
The Spir-it o-ver-brood-ing all,
E-ter-nal Love re-mains.

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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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