March 18, 2005

18R O Friend, You Are Calling

Original Title: "Father, Thou Art Calling," James Vila Blake (1880), BROMLEY COMMON,, 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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June 04, 2005

73R Shekinah In Her Holy Place

Original Title: "The Lord Is In His Holy Place," William Channing Gannett (1873), ST. BERNARD, C.M., Tochter Sion (1741); New Title: "Shekinah In Her Holy Place," rev. REH (2005), RESIGNATION, C.M.D., Traditional American; Southern Harmony (1835). William Channing Gannett (1840-1923) was an American Unitarian minister, particularly active within the Western Unitarian Conference. He was author of a document of great historical importance to the WUC entitled "Things Commonly Believed Among Us". He played a particularly important role in the women's suffrage movement in the United States; Susan B. Anthony was amongst his congregants. Though "Shekinah" does not appear in the original title of the hymn, it does occur as a reference to the glory of God in the lyrics of the first stanza (itself remarkable for a hymn composed in 1873). The reference to Exodus 40:35 is likewise original to Gannett. The word "Shekinah" does not appear as such in the Bible, but it does appear in Talmudic literature; e.g., "Whenever ten are gathered for prayer, there Shekinah rests," Talmud Sanhedrin 39a. A feminine word in Hebrew, many have suggested that the name Shekinah represents the female attributes of the presence or glory of God (though there would seem to be some competition with Wisdom/Sophia and the Spirit/Ruah, also feminine in Hebrew, or perhaps even St. Julian of Norwich's views on the mothering qualities of Christ). "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail," Job 38:22 (NRSV). "If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents," Song of Songs 1:8 (KJV); see also Jeremiah 6:3. "Gethsemane," Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32. "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you?," Acts 3:12 (NIV). "Do not I fill heaven and earth?, declares the Lord," Jeremiah 23:24. The hymn does not appear in The New Century Hymn nor in Singing the Living Tradition.


1. She-ki-nah* in her ho-ly place,
in all things, near and far;
She-ki-nah of the snow-flake, too,
finds glo-ry in the star.
She finds her-self with-in the love
of those whom we love best;
the smiles and tones that make our homes
are shrines by her poss-essed.

2. Our art may build its house of God,
our feet on Si-nai stand,
but ho-li-est of ho-lies knows
no tread, no touch of hand.
She tents with-in the lone-ly heart
and shep-herds eve-ry thought;
We find her not by seek-ing long,
we lose her not, un-sought.

3. The liste-ning soul makes Si-nai still
wher-ev-er we may be,
and in the vow "Thy will be done,"
lies all Geth-se-ma-ne.
O eve-ry-where her ho-ly place,
if love un-seals the eyes,
and eve-ry-where the wait-ing face
to wel-come and sur-prise!

* Shekinah, the visible glory of God; see, e.g., Exodus 40:35

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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) 2006 Richard E. Hurst, for non-profit local and congregational use only, all other rights reserved."

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June 09, 2005

78R Who Fathoms the Eternal Thought

Original Title: "Who Fathoms the Eternal Thought," John Greenleaf Whittier; ST. BERNARD, C.M., Tochter Sion (1741). Psalm 46:10 (KJV), "Be still, and know that I am God;" Psalm 100:3, "Know ye that the Lord he is God;" see also Deuteronomy 4:35, 1 Kings 18:39, Ezekiel 34:30, Exodus 18:11. Isaiah 2:11, [T]he haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day;" see also 2 Corinthians 10:5. 1 Kings 19:12, "And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice;" 1 John 4:8-16 "God is Love." Psalm 78:41, "And still again they tried God, and set bounds to the Holy One of Israel;" see also Psalms 74:17, 148:6; Job 26:10, 38:10.


1. Who fath-oms the E-ter-nal Thought?
Which mor-tal hath all planned?
For God is God, who need-eth not
the schemes of hu-man hand.

2. I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
ye tread with bold-ness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
the love and power of God.

3. I know not what the fu-ture hath
of mar-vel or sur-prise,
as-sured a-lone that life and death
God's mer-cy un-der-lies.

4. I know not where God's is-lands lift
their frond-ed palms in air;
I on-ly know I can-not drift
be-yond such love and care.

5. And so be-side the si-lent sea
I wait the muf-fled oar;
no harm shall ev-er come to me
on o-cean or on shore.

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December 31, 2006

620R God of Queer, Transgressive Spaces

Title: "God of Queer, Transgressive Spaces," Edward Moran (2005), alt., CONVERSE, D, C. C. Converse (1868). Moran is a Presbyterian who lives in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, New York; many of the lyrics of the hymns he has written can be found in the "Hymn Texts" section of the website run by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Moran describes the work below as addressing "often-divisive issues of sexual diversity in the light of traditional images of Incarnation and Trinity." The lyrics have been edited lightly here. The second stanza originally read as a statement rather than a question, i.e., "Born of virgin, Word made flesh, dead and buried, still He rises!" The third stanza likewise read "Easter garments, at His order, Swaddle Her beloved One," without a question mark. Finally, the last stanza here reads "unbound God" in lieu of "Threesome God" as in Moran's original. The lyrics remain under copyright all the same, (c) Edward Moran 2006. They appear here by his kind permission. Users may wish to request permission to reproduce the hymn for local or congregational worship, or other purposes, by writing him at "Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart ... Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead," Deuteronomy 6:6, 8 (NRSV), see also Deuteronomy 11:18. "It is God's gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil." Ecclesiastes 3:13. "My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away," Song of Songs 2:10. "Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt," 1 Samuel 18:3-4; see also 2 Samuel 1:26. "Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law," Romans 13:8, see also Romans 14:10, 12:4, 8:21. "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me," 1 Corinthians 11:24, see also 1 Corinthians 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:12, 1 Corinthians 13:13. "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb," John 20:2. "She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger," Luke 2:7, John 1:1. "Thus says the Lord ... I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert," Isaiah 43:16, 19.


1. God of queer, trans-gress-ive spa-ces:
Lav-ish man-ger, emp-ty tomb,
wine-dark loaves and pre-cious gra-ces
bend our bar-ren lives to bloom.

2. God’s own de-vi-ance is Jes-us:
Born of vir-gin, word made flesh,
dead and bur-ied, and still ris-es?
What ab-norm-al world-li-ness!

3. Thank God for this grave dis-ord-er:
Shroud and sor-row fall un-done;
East-er gar-ments, at whose or-der,
swad-dle the be-lov-ed one?

4. Broth-ers, bind ye to each oth-er,
Sis-ters, too, and have no shame.
Sing with God our Fath-er-Moth-er,
Love that dares now speak its name.

5. With our un-bound* God con-fess-ing:
Turn all frac-ture in-to praise,
be-ne-dic-tion in-to bless-ing,
fab-u-lous and full of days.

* or 'threesome,' as in the original

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