June 16, 2005

85R Father, Hear the Prayer We Offer

Words: Love Maria Willis (1859), rev. REH (2006); Music: SUSSEX (, English melody, adapt. by Ralph Vaughan Williams. "Hear my prayer, O God," Psalm 54:2


1. Fath-er, hear the prayer we of-fer:
Nor for ease that prayer shall be,
but for strength, that we may ev-er
live our lives cour-age-ous-ly.

2. Not for-ev-er in green pas-tures,
Shep-herd-ess, we ask to be,
but the steep and rug-ged path-way
may we tread re-joic-ing-ly.

3. Not for-ev-er by still wa-ters
would we id-ly, qui-et stay;
But would smite the liv-ing foun-tains
from the rocks a-long our way.

4. Be our strength in hours of weak-ness,
in our wan-derings be our guide;
Through en-dea-vor, fail-ure, dan-ger,
Sove-reign, O be at our side.

Noteworthy Composer File

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January 01, 2006

331R Onward Christian Soldiers

It may surprise some to learn that Hymns of the Spirit Two (1937) included "Onward Christian Soldiers" in addition to "Forward Through the Ages" for use by Unitarians and Universalists, given its absence from later denominational hymnals published by the Unitarian Universalist Association, and indeed given its absence from hymnals lately published other moderate and liberal Christian groups. Below are lyrics that take on a nearly impossible (and mostly thankless) task, seeking to be true to the original's "church militant" imagery while being useful for worship in the liberal church. Although the original lyrics were neutral, in content, on the efficacy of war, the images in the minds of some have not seemed neutral (many hear "off to war" rather than "as to war" in the hymn's first line, for example). The revised lyrics have sought to make clearer this neutrality, and make a bit more explicit the spiritual and moral goals of the liberal church.


1. On-ward, Christ-ian sol-diers, march-ing as to war,
With the crown of jus-tice go-ing on be-fore.
Christ, the roy-al rab-bi, leads a-gainst the flow;
For-ward through dis-trac-tion see love's mes-sage go!
On-ward, faith-ful sol-diers, on-ward, we im-plore,
With the crown of jus-tice go-ing on be-fore.

2. Like a swift up-ris-ing moves the church of God;
Kin-dred, we are tread-ing where the saints have trod.
May we be u-nit-ed, all one bo-dy be,
One in hope and free-dom, one in char-i-ty.
On-ward, faith-ful sold-iers; whose hearts on high soar,
With the crown of jus-tice, go-ing on be-fore.

3. Rich re-gimes may per-ish, thrones may rise and wane,
But the church of free-dom con-stant will re-main.
Tri-als shall not ev-er 'gainst that church pre-vail;
We have Christ’s own pro-mise, and that shall not fail.
On-ward, faith-ful sol-diers, dream-ing war no more,
With the crown of jus-tice, go-ing on be-fore.

4. On-ward then, all peo-ples, join our hap-py throng,
Blend with ours your voi-ces in this good-will song.
Glo-ry, laud and hon-or to your God do bring,
This through count-less a-ges, earth and an-gels sing:
On-ward, on-ward, sol-diers, seek peace ev-er-more,
With the crown of jus-tice, go-ing on be-fore!

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January 08, 2007

621R In Love I Put My Highest Trust

Title: In Love I Put My Highest Trust, Psalm 71:1-6, from The New Verson, Brady and Tate (1698), adapted REH (2007); OLD 29TH, C.M.D., Anglo-Genevan Psalter (1556), harmony, Scottish Psalter (1635). Alternative (and perhaps better known) hymn tunes to consider include Vaughn Williams' KINGSFOLD, C.M.D., and FOREST GREEN, C.M.D., both of which may be found in Singing the Living Tradition and in The New Century Hymnal. Psalm 71 is an appointed Revised Common Lectionary reading for Epiphany 4C and Proper 16C/Ordinary 21C, as well as for the Tuesday during Holy Week. The lyrics also echo Psalm 139:13 (NRSV), "You knit me in my mother's womb." The lyrics address, in a broad way, the often unchurchly topic of bullying, an area of resurgent concern for young men and women in the Internet age. Advice to bullies and their victims might include: "Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all," Romans 12:19; see also Proverbs 24:7. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you," Luke 6:27-28. This ode to Love echoes too the Greek Testament, in words that have come to us as "Deus caritas est," or "God is Love," words of particular significance for many Universalists. 1 John 4:16

OLD 29TH (C.M.D.)

1. In Love I put my high-est trust,
de-fend-ing hearts from chains;
And who but you can save my soul
as I cry out your names?
You are the strong and sweet-est place,
to which all souls re-sort;
And Love's de-mands do keep me safe;
they are my rock and port.

2. From cru-el taunt and cru-el word,
from earl-iest days of youth,
my heart you ev-er soothed, O God;
My life still lives in you.
Love's tough-ened care did safe-ly guard
my ten-der school-yard days;
You knit me deep with-in your womb;
Now life is con-stant praise!

Word Score
PDF Score
Noteworthy Composer File

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