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.
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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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!
Noteworthy Composer File
All materials may be reproduced for non-profit local and congregational use. We request notification of use, in addition to notification of any changes made when materials are used so we might benefit from the insight of others. Any materials used or reproduced in any way must bear the notation "(c) 2005 Richard E. Hurst, for non-profit local and congregational use only, all other rights reserved."