Wednesday, June 24, 2015

118. Disaster Hymn

I saved writing this "disaster relief" hymn until well after the conclusion of a disaster-relief-hymnwriting contest that I didn't care to compete in. I haven't read any of the submissions to it either, just to be safe from unconscious plagiarism. It's not that I'm uninterested in competition or in what other hymn writers did, it's just that I was too interested in the subject to let someone's, or rather some committee's, criteria get in the way of my judgment. Behold, this is how I would write a "disaster relief" hymn without any reference to how someone else would do it.

O Lord, our Dwelling Place
From age to age, give ear:
When trouble hides Your loving face
And fills our hearts with fear,
Assure us that with sheltering grace
You listen even here.

When famine sears the land
Or wind and flood destroy,
Remind us Your creating hand
Provides each need and joy;
Then at the season You have planned,
Your messengers employ.

Restore the broken wall;
Raise up the fallen home.
Relieve the pain and want of all
On whom these days have come.
Into safe harbors, Savior, call
Those who in peril roam.

Our hearts may take it ill
When we come to the test;
Forgive us, and the thought instill:
In this, too, we are blest.
We do not understand Your will,
But know that it is best.

For Christ was poor from birth
And had no place to rest,
Though foxes had their den of earth
And birds their nightly nest;
His flesh, of heaven-spanning worth,
Strait in the tomb was pressed.

But now He lives again
And nevermore can die.
His death encompasses all men;
His rising splits the sky.
He will destroy destruction when
He raises us on high.

In You, Lord, and Your Son
No force on earth can harm
The people You unite as one
And shelter with Your arm.
Help us recall what He has done
In times of sore alarm.

Creation quakes and groans
For Jesus to appear;
Each war the church's vigil hones
To see His day draw near.
Till then build us as living stones
To be Your dwelling here.

So build us, Lord, that when
Men's earthly dwellings fall,
We may relieve our fellow men
And mend the broken wall.
Make us the messengers You send
To show Your love to all.

EDIT: Here's an original tune I wrote for this hymn. I titled it DWELLING PLACE.

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