January 07, 2006

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Second Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)
January 15, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
(celebrated Monday, January 16, 2006)

The National Council of Churches in Christ, USA, representing more than 37 denominations, is sponsoring "Living Wage Days" in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., noting that the minimum wage currently places workers more than five thousand dollars below the official poverty line. Religious leaders call this state of affairs a "moral outrage," given that one in six children in the United States lives in poverty, the majority in working families. King placed the abolition of poverty in his lifetime high amongst his many goals. One event in "Living Wage Days" will be held at the historic United First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Quincy, Massachusetts (the so-called "Church of the Presidents," as it was the home church of John Adams, amongst others), where members of Congress and others from more than 50 faith communities are to speak about how it is that in the wealthiest country on earth, those who work for a living full-time might still live in poverty. See the press release from the National Council of Churches.

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Ring Out, Wild Bells" No 149R
"O Pure Reformers, Not in Vain" No. 328R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" No. 149
"We Shall Overcome" No. 169
"Oh, Freedom" No. 156
"Precious Lord, Take My Hand" No. 199

The Tennyson hymn "Ring Out, Wild Bells" No 149R, though technically a hymn for the New Year, boasts lyrics that speak of the dying year, and the coming of the new, which might be seasonal enough; they might be seen as well as a metaphor of a new age of which King spoke, and thus appropriate for the holiday. Most on point are the lyrics, notable considering these were written in 1849, that speak of ringing out "false pride in blood and place, the civic slander and the spite." Some in more pluralist settings may find the substitution of the word "Love" in the last line helpful.

Retired United Methodist pastor John Middleton's hymn for King Day, entitled "Come, Let Us Dream (God's dream again)," many may find appopriate for post-modern worship. It is set to the tune GIFT OF LOVE (L.M.), which is found in Singing the Living Tradition to the well-known hymn "Though I May Speak With Bravest Fire," at no. 34. Permission for local church worship has been granted; the hymn may be found here: "Come, Let Us Dream"

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" No. 126
"Be Thou My Vision" No. 20

Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Now Thank We All Our God" No. 262R
"Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" No. 30R
"Praise Be to God, the Almighty" No. 7R

None of these hymns, properly speaking, squarely takes on Psalm 139; however, the following hymn from The Psalter (1912), with minor revisions, accompanied by the 2005 hymn tune GUTERHIRT (C.M.) composed by Michael Lonneke, released into the public domain, does:

O Love, my in-most heart and thought
thy search-ing eye doth see;
Wher-e'er I rest, wher-e'er I go,
my ways are known to thee.

Each spok-en word, each si-lent thought,
thou, God, dost un-der-stand;
Be-fore me and be-hind art thou,
sus-tain-ing by thy hand.

If I the wings of morn-ing take
to some re-mot-est land,
still I shall be up-held by thee
and guid-ed by thy hand.

From thee, O God, I can-not hide
though night-time cov-er me;
The even-ing and the light of day
are both a-like to thee.

Search me, O Truth, and know my heart,
try me, my thoughts to know;
O lead me, if aim-less I stray,
in paths of life to go.

Though not included in Hymns of the Spirit Two, it is included in Hymns of the Spirit Three, as "O Love, My Inmost Heart" No. 601R . Lonneke was the found­ing pre­si­dent of the Lou­doun, Vir­gin­ia, Sym­pho­ny, and serves as or­gan­ist for the Ang­li­can Church of the Good Shep­herd and for Trin­i­ty United Meth­od­ist Church, both in Par­is, Vir­gin­ia, near Washington, DC.

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"The Lone, Wild Bird" No. 15

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Holy Spirit, Love Divine" No. 68R
"Pues Si Vivimos" No. 600R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Come Down, O Love Divine" No. 271

"Pues Si Vivimos" No. 600R is an easy Mexican folk hymn, one stanza in Spanish, one in English. Congregations and congregants with even rudimentary skills should be able to make their way through these brief, simple and powerful lyrics. Guitar chords provide alternative ways for congregational singing, although the hymn is suitable for traditional hymn singing as well. Additional Spanish and English lyrics, subject to copyright, are available in other hymnals.

John 1:43-51

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"O Teacher, Let Me Walk With You" 208R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" No. 211
& "We Are Dancing Sarah's Circle" No. 212
"Forward Through the Ages" No. 114

Three hymns to the tune ST. GERTRUDE are included in Hymns of the Spirit Two (1937), including "Forward Through the Ages" by Arthur Seymor Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) as no. 329, the only one of the three to merit placement by the editors directly under the hymn tune. Also included are "Hail the Hero Workers" by Anna Garlin Spencer at no. 330, and lastly "Onward, Christian Soliders," by Sabine Baring-Gould, with alterations even in the 1937 collection, at no. 331. No. 330, an interesting historical piece, has not survived; nor of course has "Onward, Christian Soldiers," not merely is it absent from Singing the Living Tradition, but from many of the current hymnals published by the so-called "mainstream" Protestant churches (that it is absent from the hymnals of Catholic and Orthodox churches, perhaps to their credit, goes without saying). None of the hymns tied to the tune ST. GERTRUDE are yet included in Hymns of the Spirit Three; the question is how no. 331 should be treated therein, or even whether the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers" is subject to "rehabilitation" for progressive or post-liberal worship. Perhaps the passage of time will effect its own rehabilitation, but that might be a long time indeed. Readers are welcome to share their opinions and suggestions.

Copyright © 2006 Richard E. Hurst, www.hos3.com/hotw
This listing and other materials above may be printed, copied, distributed, reprinted in church or local group bulletins or newsletters, or otherwise used for nonprofit local worship or education with the inclusion of the copyright citation and the website as its source. It may not be used for profit or republication without prior permission (blondlieut@aol.com).

Posted by rehurst at 04:36 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2006

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Third Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)
January 22, 2006

Sacrifice to the Kitchen God
(celebrated January 22, 2006)

with materials from the website www.schooloftheseasons.com.

Talk of the "Kitchen God" makes one think of Amy Tan's Chinese Baptist family, and her novel The Kitchen God's Wife. A week before Chinese New Year, the head of the household makes a sacrifice to Tsao Wang, the Kitchen God; the day that before, the house is swept completely clean. In ancient times, an antelope was sacrificed, but by 1900, people offered candies and sugar cakes (so that the Kitchen God might say good things about the family, or at least become so sticky in the mouth that speaking became labored); as well as grass and beans for the God's horse. Now the usual practice is to smear honey on the picture of the Kitchen God. On this same day, people post "good wish" poems, written by professional calligraphers, usually on red paper. They say things such as "May there be a single universal peace, with true wealth and honor" or "May the spring colors of the Nine Heavens appear in profuse elegance."

Blackburn, Bonnie and Holford-Strevens, Leofranc, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press (1999); Li-Ch'en, Tun, translated by Derk Bodde, Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking, Peking: Henri Vetch (1936)

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Mysterious Presence, Source of All" No. 92
"Your Mercy, Oh Eternal One" No. 185
"What Gift Can We Bring?" No. 404

Jonah 3:1-5,10

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Rock of Ages" No. 603R

This traditional hymn, written by Augustus M. Toplady (1776), absent even from Hymns of the Spirit Two (1937), has been recast significantly here:

1. Rock of A-ges, cleft for me,
let me hide, a shel-ter be;
O the wa-ters midst the flood,
from the wound-ed sky did flow;
May we find a last-ing cure;
Save from wrath and make all pure.

2. No-thing in my hand I bring,
simp-ly to your love I cling;
Nak-ed, come to you for dress;
Help-less, look to you for grace;
Foul, I to your foun-tain fly;
Wash me, Pure Love, now my cry.

3. While I draw this fleet-ing breath,
when my eye-strings close in death,
when I soar to worlds un-known,
see you on the mer-cy throne!
Rock of A-ges, cleft for me,
Let me hide; a shel-ter be

"Roca de la eternidad" No. 603R

The three stanzas from the uncopyrighted Spanish version, "Roca de la eternidad," by T.M. Westrup, which appears as no. 247 in Mil voces para celebrar, have likewise been recast and rearranged:

a. Ro-ca de la~e-ter-ni-dad,
fuis-te~a-bier-ta tú por mí.
Sé mi~es-con-de-de-ro fiel,
só-lo~en-cuen-tro paz en ti;
ri-co, lim-pio ma-nan-tial,
en el cual la-va-do fui.

b. Aun-que se-a siem-pre fiel,
aun-que lu-che sin ce-sar,
só-lo~en ti te-nien-do fe,
sal-va-ción he de go-zar;
Sé mi~es-con-de-de-ro fiel,
ro-ca de la~e-ter-ni-dad.

"In Christ there Is No East or West" No. 413R

This hymn is particular appropriate as Christian Unity Week is celebrated from January 18 through January 25, 2006. Christian Unity Week Resouces at textweek.com Here it has been moderately revised and set to McKEE (as it has been elsewhere), an African-American spiritual.

Psalm 62:5-12

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"O God Our Help in Ages Past" No. 145R
"O God, the Rock of Ages" No. 148R
"All My Hope Is Firmly Founded" No. 219R

No. 219R is based on verses from Psalm 62, the lectionary psalm for this week.

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"God of Grace and God of Glory" No. 345R

Mark 1:14-20

Translations of Mark 1:15 are many. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in this good news," is the New Revised Standard rendition. Others have suggested that the Greek "metanoia" means something closer to "think again," such that the English "repent" is somewhat off the mark, thus rendering this more along the lines of "The time has come, the reign of God is at hand, is available, think again, be new-minded, and believe in this good news."

In light of the day's Kitchen God observances, roughly analogous observations might be in order from the Confucian and Taoist traditions: "If one finds that one has made a mistake, then one must not be afraid of admitting the fact and amending one's ways." Confucius, Analects 1:8:4 "If one has, indeed, done deeds of wickedness, but afterwards alters one's way and repents, resolved not to do anything wicked, but to practice reverently all that is good, one is sure in the long run to obtain good fortune--this is called changing calamity into blessing." Lao-Tze, Treatise on Response and Retribution 5

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"A Voice by Jordan's Shore" No. 210R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Grieve Not Your Heart" No. 186
"We the Heirs of Many Ages" No. 102
"Dear Mother-Father of Us All" No. 274

Copyright © 2006 Richard E. Hurst, www.hos3.com/hotw
This listing and other materials above may be printed, copied, distributed, reprinted in church or local group bulletins or newsletters, or otherwise used for nonprofit local worship or education with the inclusion of the copyright citation and the website as its source. It may not be used for profit or republication without prior permission (blondlieut@aol.com).

Posted by rehurst at 02:50 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2006

Sunday, January 29, 2006

January 29, 2006
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

(Above) Arian Baptistry in Ravenna, Italy (mosaic)

Candlemas / The Presentation / Etc.
(celebrated February 2, 2006)

Candlemas is the celebration of the Christ child's "Presentation" at the temple, observed since the earliest days of the Church, where his greatness is recognized by Simeon the Just and Anna the Prophetess (one is recollected that Jesus' status as the Messiah in the Qu'ran is marked by different means, namely his ability to talk as an infant, see Sura 19:29-33). In the Roman and Anglican churches, the occasion is marked by the blessing of candles. Candlemas

The Christian celebration overlaps to some extent with ealier customs, notably Imbolc. The holiday was an pre-Christian Celtic festival of light, reflecting the lengthening of the day and the hope of spring. It was traditional to light all the lamps of the house for a few minutes on Imbolc; rituals often involve a great deal of candles. Modern natural theists often argue that Candlemas is a Christianized version of Imbolc (in Ireland, Imbolc is also said to be today celebrated as St. Brigid's feast day, a secondary patron saint for the island, which also falls on February 2). Traces of the festival of the growing light can found in the Groundhog Day, which falls on the very same day. If a groundhog sees its shadow on this morning, it means there will be six more weeks of winter. The custom comes directly from Scotland, where an old couplet goes: "If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." Imbolc

The Song of Simeon, or the Nunc Dimittis, is often associated with Candlemas (and typically used as a closing hymn), and is found at Luke 2:29-32. The following hymn, Catherine Winkworth's translation from the German, entitled "O Light of Every Nation" No. 602R, echoes this passage. Here the Christian and pre-Christian images merge-- The Annointed of God appears as the "light of every nation" and a "beacon in distress" whom we recognize, though the hopes of spring, at least in the northern half of the planet, remain still distant hopes indeed.

Title: "O Light of Every Nation," Johann Franck (1674), originally "Herr Jesu, Licht der Heiden," translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth (1863), rev. REH (2006), VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN, D, Melchior Teschner (1613)

O light of every nation, re-deem-er from above,
drawn by the spir-it’s lead-ing, we come with joy and love
into your holy temple and wait with earn-est mind
as Sim-eon once had wait-ed on the Sove-reign to find.

O, God, your seek-ers meet you in eve-ry ho-ly place
where your true words have promis-ed that we should find your grace.
Today you still do grant us who gather around you here
in arms of faith to bear you as did that agèd seer.

O be our joy and bright-ness, our cheer in loss and pain,
our sun in deep-est ter-ror, the glo-ry of your reign,
a star for sink-ing spirits, a bea-con in dis-tress,
physician, friend in sick-ness, in death our happiness.

Let us, O God, be faithful like Simeon to the end,
So that this prayer exultant may from our hearts ascend:
"O God, now let your ser-vant depart in peace, I pray,
since I have seen th'A-noint-ed here on this ve-ry day."

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Mother of All" No. 91
"I Am That Great and Fiery Force" No. 27

11th century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen supplies the text of "I Am That Great and Fiery Force," which reads "where I breathe there is no death ... for I am Life." "Mother of All" is a recast of the Lord's Prayer in feminine imagery.

Deuteronomy 18:15-2

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"All Creatures of the Earth and Sky" No. 151R
"Oh, criaturas del buen Dios" No. 151R

Psalm 111

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"All Creatures of the Earth and Sky" No. 151R
"Oh, criaturas del buen Dios" No. 151R
"All My Hope Is Firmly Founded" No. 219R

The following revised hymn "Unknown, Yet Known" was originally written in 1891 (under the original name "Lord of Our Life, God Whom We Fear") by Samuel F. Smith. Smith, a Northern (now American) Baptist, attended Harvard University and Andover Theological, and was a classmate and friend of Unitarian Oliver Wendell Holmes. The hymn takes from this week's lectionary psalm, no. 111; the tune is LOUVAN (C.M.) by Virgil C. Taylor, published in Choral Anthems (Boston, Massachusetts: 1850).

Unknown, yet known; unseeen, yet near;
God of all love, yet whom we fear;
Breath of our breath, in you we live;
Life of our life, our praise receive.

Your eye detects the sparrow’s fall;
Your heart of love expands for all;
Our throbbing life is full and free;
Throned in your vast infinity.

Shine in our evening, Light of light,
Our minds illumine, disperse our night;
Make us feel deeper ere your will;
Our souls with all your fullness fill.

We shout your name, follow your rod;
Your word, our guide, O gracious God!
We seek your peace; on you we call:
Our Light, our Life, our Love, our All.

Some versions of the Bible have transformed the "fear" of God in Psalm 111 into a "reverence" for God as the beginning of wisdom; others suggest that it is God's mystery, God's unknownable quality, that in itself invokes at least some measure of (properly stated) "fear" as an initial matter in our encounters with the divine. There is something genuine about this description, not of the divine nature, but of human nature-- what we do not know is often frightening to us. But what Psalm 111 suggests is that this "fear" of the unknown and is some senses unknownable mystery that is God can be the beginning, all the same, of "wisdom," for those who seek after the divine mystery, despite the wholly (and holy) "otherness" of that mystery.

Those who, of course, feel strongly about the word "fear," and wish, for example, to make the above lyrics accord with the AIV edition of the Bible, are welcome to change the second line to "God of all love; God we revere."

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"All Creatures of the Earth and Sky" No. 151R
"Oh, criaturas del buen Dios" No. 151R
"Blest Be the Ties That Bind" No. 563R

Mark 1:21-28

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Jesus, the Very Thought of You" No. 205R
"All Beautiful the March of Days" No. 131R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Dear Mother-Father of Us All" No. 274

Copyright © 2006 Richard E. Hurst, www.hos3.com/hotw
This listing and other materials above may be printed, copied, distributed, reprinted in church or local group bulletins or newsletters, or otherwise used for nonprofit local worship or education with the inclusion of the copyright citation and the website as its source. It may not be used for profit or republication without prior permission (blondlieut@aol.com).

Posted by rehurst at 03:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2006

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Fifth Sunday After Epiphany (Year B)
February 5, 2006

(Above) Sixth Mount Zion Baptist was organized in Richmond, Virginia in September 1867 by John Jasper (1812-1901), who would go on to become one of the nation's best known African-American ministers. Jasper served as pastor of the church for 34 years and is remembered most for his "Sun Do Move" sermon which he later delivered by invitation more than 250 times, including once before the Virginia General Assembly. The Church still meets at the same location in Richmond's historic Jackson Ward neighborhood.

February 2006
African-American History Month

From Singing the Living Tradition:
"Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" No. 99
"When Israel Was in Egypt's Land" No. 104
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" No. 149
"We Shall Overcome" No. 169
"Come Sunday" No. 202
"Everytime I Feel the Spirit" No. 208
"Wade In the Water" No. 210
"We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder" No. 211
"We Are Dancing Sarah's Circle" No. 212

Singing the Living Tradition
in contrast to Hymns of the Spirit Two, boasts an abundance of African-American spirituals and hymns. Some of these, those that are theist and Christian in nature, are above. Others, which speak more generally of freedom and other themes (without specifically invoking the divine) may be found in the index of Singing the Living Tradition, on page 654, under "African American spirituals." Most are what in the Episcopal tradition might be called "general hymns," and veritable "hymns for all seasons." Just a few, the two or three of the higher-numbered hymns, are seasonal.

Given that the celebration of the African history is month-long, these are appropriate throughout February; there are many from which to make a useful selection throughout the year. Some are difficult pieces, more appropriate for choirs, such as Duke Ellington's "Come Sunday." Others, while "African American," in source and theme, are musically closer to "standard" (if there is such a thing) non-African-American hymnody associated with the Church in the 19th and 20th century, such as "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Isaiah 40:21-31

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Praise to the Living God" No. 1R
"Yigdal Elohim Chai" No. 1R
"Al vivo Dios, loor" No. 1S

"Awake Our Souls, Away Our Fears" No. 103R

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Rejoice, O Pure in Heart" No. 13
"O God Builds Up Jerusalem" No 608R

"O God Builds Up Jerusalem" is adapted from "Praise Ye the Lord, 'Tis Good to Raise," a metrical rendition of Psalm 147 by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) that appeared in The Psalms of David (1719) to the tune ACCRINGTON by William Moore.

O God builds up Je-ru-sa-lem,
and ga-thers na-tions to The Name;
Love's mer-cy melts the stub-born soul,
and makes the bro-ken spi-rit whole.

Wis-dom formed stars, those heav’n-ly flames;
and counts their num-bers, calls their names;
And skies are vast, and know no bound,
A deep where all our thoughts are found.

Sing praise to God, exalt God high,
who spreads the clouds all round the sky;
where are pre-pared the fruit-ful rain,
and no drops may des-cend in vain.

Life makes the grass the hills a-dorn,
and clothes the smi-ling fields with corn;
The beasts with food Love's hands sup-ply,
and the young ra-vens when they cry.

(Above) Members and deacons of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, using liturgical umbrellas and hand-made silver crosses. The head-dresses represent the Ten Commandments. The Ethiopian Orthodox, as old as any church in Europe, believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides with them.

1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Mark 1:29-39

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Praise Be to God, the Almighty" No. 7
"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" No. 304R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Precious Lord, Take My Hand" No. 199

from Singing the Journey:
"There Is a Balm in Gilead" No. 1045 (African American spiritual)

Copyright © 2006 Richard E. Hurst, www.hos3.com/hotw
This listing and other materials above may be printed, copied, distributed, reprinted in church or local group bulletins or newsletters, or otherwise used for nonprofit local worship or education with the inclusion of the copyright citation and the website as its source. It may not be used for profit or republication without prior permission (blondlieut@aol.com).

Posted by rehurst at 03:47 AM | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)
February 12, 2006

Madonna of the Pomegranate (circa 1487), Botticelli, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Tu B'Shevat, The Jewish "New Year for Trees," Shevat 15, 5766
(celebrated Monday, Februrary 13, 2006)

"When you come to the land and you plant any tree, you shall treat its fruit as forbidden; for three years it will be forbidden and not eaten. In the fourth year, all of its fruit shall be sanctified to praise Adonai. In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit." Leviticus 19:23-25 "There are four new years ... the 15th of Shevat is the new year for trees according to the ruling of ... Beit Hillel." Mishnah "Rosh Hashanah" 1:1

Tu B'Shevat is the new year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. Fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for God, and after that, the fruit may be eaten. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shevat, so if a tree is planted on Shevat 14, it begins its second year the next day, but if a tree is planted two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B'Shevat. See www.jewfaq.org/holiday8.htm

The Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life has helped create a seder dinner and prayer service for the holiday (consisting of walnuts, pomegranates, olives, dates and other fruits from trees), focusing on Tu B'Shvat as renewed commitment to serve and protect trees, and all God's creation. For Kabbalists (Kabbalah is a Jewish mystical tradition), trees serve as well as a metaphor for the "Tree of Life." Many will find the biblical and other citations in the seder useful and interesting. see http://jewish.com/holidays/tbv_hag2.html

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Praise to the Living God" No. 1R
"Yigdal Elohim Chai" No. 1R

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"Shabbat Shalom" No. 214 (Hebrew melody)
"Hashiveinu" No. 216 (Hebrew melody)
"Hineh Mah Tov" No. 392 (Hebrew round)
"Hava Nashirah" No. 394 (Hebrew round)
"Vine and Fig Tree" No. 399 (Hebrew round; words from Isaiah and Micah)
"Shalom Havayreem" No. 400 (Hebrew round)
"Hevenu Shalom Aleychem" No. 415 (Hebrew melody; recessional)
"Earth Was Given As a Garden" No. 207

Singing the Living Tradition contains an abundances of rounds in Hebrew, or which are otherwise traditional Hebrew melodies. One or more might be appropriate on this Sunday, in a common worship service, or in a religious education class with children. "Earth Was Given As a Garden," to the well-known Welsh tune HYFRYDOL, by contrast, has no particular Hebrew musical connection, though it echoes themes from Genesis and exhorts stewardship for the Earth.

2 Kings 5:1-14

From Hymns of the Spirit Three
"Praise to the Living God" No. 1R
"Yigdal Elohim Chai" No. 1R
"Praise Be to God, the Almighty" No. 7R
"Rock of Ages" No. 603R
"Roca de la eternidad" No. 603R

Psalm 30

From Singing the Living Tradition:
"Amazing Grace" Nos. 205, 206
"I've Got Peace Like a River" No. 100
"Oh, Freedom" No. 156 (African-American spiritual)

From Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go" No. 243R
"In Prosperous Days I Boasted" No. 604R

The following lyrics are based on lectionary Psalm 30, from The Psalter (1912), and have been moderately revised and set to MEIRIONYDD ( D), by William Freeman Lloyd (1840). The tune is better known for being paired with "The Morning Hangs a Signal."

1. In pros-perous days I boast-ed,
"Un-moved I shall re-main;"
O God, your di-vine fa-vor
my life did you main-tain;
I soon was sore-ly troub-led,
for you did hide your face;
I cried to you, O my God,
and sought your ho-ly grace.

2. The Ho-ly Name re-mem-ber,
you saints, give thanks and praise!
God's dis-pleased but a mo-ment;
God's fa-vor lasts al-ways;
For sor-row, like a pil-grim,
may stay with us a night,
but joy the heart will glad-den
when dawns the mor-ning light.

3. Who'd pro-fit if I per-ished,
if my life were not spared?
Would dust re-peat God's prais-es,
would Truth thus be de-clared?
O God, on me have mer-cy,
and my pe-ti-tion hear;
That you might be my hel-per,
in mer-cy, God, ap-pear!

4. My grief thus turned to glad-ness,
to you my thanks I raise;
who has re-moved my sor-row,
up-lift-ed me with praise!
And now, no lon-ger si-lent,
my heart your praise does sing;
O God, my God, for-ev-er
my thanks to you I bring.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

from Hymns of the Spirit Three
"Jesus, the Very Thought of You" No. 205R

Mark 1:40-45
Jesus Cures the Leper

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"Rock of Ages" No. 603R
"Roca de la eternidad" No. 603R
"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"

from Singing the Living Tradition:
Amazing Grace

St. Valentine's Day
(celebrated February 14, 2006)


On February 15, Ancient Rome celebrated the Pagan festival of Lupercalia, a fertility ritual, where after much wine-drinking and the sacrifice of goats to Lupercus, the god of fertility, people ran through the streets thouching whom they please. Easy childbirth was the petition of people's prayers. At least three (legendary) saints exist with the name St. Valentine; the most topical, perhaps, is said to have married Roman soldiers prevented by law from doing so.

While this entry is being written, from within the Commonwealth of Virginia, the legislators here have decided our Jefferson-inspired constitution needs words ensuring same-gender couples are not treated as married couples under the law here (that there is a law to this effect is, apparently, not sufficient), as these are a threat to Virginia families and an affront to our state's deeply held moral values. Were this true, the editor would all the same be forced to ponder different-gender couples in Virginia whose unions have been the result of manifestly adulterous liaisons, the (sometimes Machiavellian) break-up of otherwise intact heterosexual married couples, and the children of such unions who thereafter are shuttled between the resulting households. Yet these unions, of course, regardless of their moral status or their effect on Virginia families, are given access to the "special" rights and privileges accorded by marital law in the Commonwealth. One can only speculate why it is some putatively "immoral" couples are given legal status and some are not, or why it is Virginia legislators believe themselves to be in a position to judge some Virginians "pure" or "not pure" enough to marry whom they choose (one likewise wonders when legislators in Virginia, in accord with chapter 19 of Leviticus noted above, will prohibit the consumption of fruit from tree not yet five years' old, as God has prohibited this ... or is Leviticus perhaps something some people of faith pick and choose from, as their pre-existing prejudices suit them?).

One is recollected again of Jesus in the lectionary reading from Mark, who cures the leper, but in doing so not merely cures one person of a disease, but seeks more broadly to tear down the social barriers that exist between those who deem themselves "clean" and those who are deemed "unclean" and thus outcasts. God indeed, as those in the United Church of Christ might say, is still speaking ... Suffice it to say that the spirit embodied in the legends of St. Valentine might be more needed now than at any time in the past.

Finally, at least one of the original "Valentines" was an influential gnostic Christian; that is, Valentinus, the author of the gnostic Gospel of Truth. He believed that "union" of ourselves with our beloved within the holy context of the Christian bridal chamber was itself a means of spiritual purification.


English poet Christina Rossetti, born in 1830 of Italian parents living in exile in England, Anglican and much influenced by the Oxford Movement to return to more "Anglo-Catholic" modes of worship, wrote Victorian verse that described an intense religious experience. The words below from her poem "Quinquagesima," in the public domain, and in meter, might well make an appropriate (if brief) St. Valentine's Day hymn. Currently I'm thinking LANGRAN ( for "Love Alone is the Worthy Law," but any suggestions before placement in Hymns of the Spirit Three would be most welcomed.

from Singing the Living Tradition:
"My Life Flows On In Endless Song" No. 108 (American Gospel tune)

The original lyrics of this Quaker song go "since Love is Lord of heav'n and earth, how can I keep from singing;" the editors of Singing the Living Tradition having given us "since love prevails in heav'n and earth, how can I keep from singing?" The "unrevised" version may have to be placed in Hymns of the Spirit Three.

from Hymns of the Spirit Three:
"New Every Morning Is the Love" No. 98R
"Love Alone is the Worthy Love" No. 605R

Love a-lone is the wor-thy law of love:
All oth-er laws have pre-sup-posed a taint:
Love is the law from kind-led saint to saint,
from lamb to lamb, from dove to answe-ring dove.

Love is the mo-tive of all things that move,
har-mon-ious by free will with-out con-straint:
Love learns and teach-es: love shall us ac-quaint
with all we lack, and all we lack is love.

Saints Sergius and Bacchus, Roman soldiers, faithful couple, martyred for their Christian faith circa 303. Their feast-day on the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church is October 7.

Posted by rehurst at 03:49 AM | Comments (1)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Seventh Sunday After Epiphany (Year B)
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Portrait of the First President of the United States, Anglican, Deist

Presidents' Day
(celebrated Monday, February 20, 2006)
Religion and the Presidents
A 2005 Sermon from the Universalist Church in Stoughton, Massachusetts, examines the Presidents and religion, reviewing the (somewhat odd) overrepresentation of Unitarian and Universalist presidents and candidates to the office.

At least one blogger ("UU Enforcer"), a correligionist, complains that while he is a fan of the new hymnal supplement, Singing the Journey, he laments its lack of national songs and anthems, American and Canadian. On Presidents' day, one or more such pieces might be appropriate. Hymns of the Spirit Two had several from these countries (although published prior to "O Canada" becoming the national anthem of Canada). Our home congregation, as did many in our home town, sang the last verse of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," every Sunday, since the 1976, only recently stopping this practice. It appears as no. 384 in Hymns of the Spirit Two, to AMERICA, by Samuel Francis Smith (1832):

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.

Only the first and last stanzas require any alterations; namely, the line "land where our forebears died," in the first stanza. The last stanza, which we used as just after the doxology, requires a bit more adjustment, but the editor has had many Sundays to contemplate its words:

Our forebears' God to thee,
Author of liberty--
All laud we bring:
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light;
Protect us by thy might,
Great God, we sing.

One loses the "royal" designation for God, but this seems not a terrible loss in a constitutional democracy. With this few changes, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," will be added to Hymns of Spirit Three, but no doubt in the meantime the tune will be familiar to and singable by many.

Isaiah 43:18-25
A way will I make through the wilderness ...

from Hymns of the Spirit Three::
"Unto Thy Temple, Lord, We Come" No. 14R

Psalm 41
Consider the poor!

Words: Adapted from Pslams of David, Brady and Tate (1812) C.M.
Words: based on Pslam 41, Psalms of David, Brady and Tate (1812), adapted by REH (2006); Music: KINGSFOLD (C.M.D.)

Hap-py the souls that thought-ful-ly
the poor and out-cast serve;
When times of troub-les come a-round,
those souls does God pre-serve.
And You, their lives, with bless-ings crowned,
in safe-ty do pro-long;
and dis-ap-point the will of those
who seek to do them wrong.

If freed from heal-ing oth-ers’ ills,
now they with sick-ness lie;
O Love, be heal-ing still their fate,
and in-ward strength sup-ply.
O Life’s pre-sence has set me free,
be-fore that ra-diant face.
Your ten-der care se-cures my life
from dan-gers and dis-grace.

Let there-fore Is-rael's lov-ing God
from age to age be blessed;
And all the peo-ple's glad ap-plause
with loud A-mens ex-pressed.
Hap-py the souls that thought-ful-ly
the poor and out-cast serve;
When times of troub-les come a-round,
those souls does God pre-serve.

2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Each of God's promises is a "yes"

From Singing the Living Tradition:
"Just As Long As I Have Breath" No. 6

...I must answer 'Yes' to Life. The hymn from Singing the Living Tradition is indebted as well to Dag Hammarskjold (former Secretary General of the United Nations), from his private papers published after his death in a plane crash on UN business in the Congo, entitled Markings: "For everything that has been, thanks and praise. For all that is to be, yes." e.e. cummings, son a Unitarian minister, re-writes the passage from Corinthians this way (Reading No. 504 in Singing the Living Tradition):

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Mark 2:1-12

Jesus cures the paralytic

Our correligionists, within and without our denomination, are much given to the poetry and religious musing of Rumi-- Jalal Al-Din Rumi, Sufi saint, founder of (what in the West are called) the Whirling Dervishes. So much of it, even more than below, takes on the topic of Jesus and healing, in a very straight-forward way. This particular rendition has a much less miraculous cast to it, and thus serves a different audience. One thinks, of course, of another President, the crypto-Unitarian Thomas Jefferson, who literally cut apart the gospels, redacting out the portions of the good news he thought to be too incredible to be true; the resulting work, The Jefferson Bible, is sold by the UUA's Beacon Press. Adapted from the Masnavi (the so-called "Qu'ran in Persian"), Book I, 143-81. YORKSHIRE,

The Teach-er said "O leave your home to-day,
ev-en your loved ones should now stay a-way."
Then gent-ly asked "and which town are you from?
Heal-ing de-pends on how my seek-ers come."
Through shar-ing sto-ries with the sick and poor,
the Teach-er spoke a-bout friend-ships and more.

"What loved ones might there now be liv-ing there,
what fa-mi-ly and friend-ships do you share?"
The sick one told of a long his-to-ry,
of all past loved ones and all fa-mi-ly,
speak-ing of ma-ny de-tails in each town,
from lo-cal food to fea-tures of re-nown.

Then the Phy-si-cian solved the mys-ter-y
find-ing the source of the deep a-gon-y.
"So where pre-cise-ly does your love re-side?"
"It's near the bridge, on the left-hand-ed side."
"We've re-cog-nized the ail-ment, count on me,
and true faith will pro-vide a re-me-dy."

"A pro-phet said, Who-ev-er dreams a dream
at-tains it soon-er through our God Su-preme."
The Heal-er's lov-ing words and pro-mis-es
re-lieved the pa-tient's count-less ill-ness-es.
True pro-mis-es grant heal-ing con-stant-ly;
false pro-mis-es reign in our li-ber-ty.

Modern dervishes, wearing the hat of the sort once worn by Rumi himself, dancing the very dance of sorrow Rumi once danced in memory upon the loss of his beloved, Shams i-Tabriz.

Posted by rehurst at 05:31 AM | Comments (0)