Saturday, February 6, 2016

Four More Hymns

I actually had a whole day off from work today, and I'm still getting used to the loneliness since my parents moved out of state and I'm in my own digs again, so although it was a beautiful day outside I spent swaths of it writing hymns. Here are the results, pushing me closer to my 200-hymn goal.

188. Intercession for the Sick
I couldn't decide between two tunes for this hymn. The first, of Welsh extraction, is CAERGYBI by John D. Roberts, 1883:
The second, from the Slovak tradition, is ROK NOVÝ, from T. Závorka’s Kancional, 1602:
Lord Christ, made known in being kind
To those unclean, lame, fevered, blind,
Those sick in body and in mind:
Be merciful, we pray!

For those now ill or bearing pain,
Show healing mercy once again;
Let patient peace within them reign
Along affliction’s way!

Uphold their faith throughout this test,
Assuring them You mean the best;
Let those who care for them be blest
With faithful words to say!

Give their physicians, nurses, aides,
Skill that becomes their honored trades;
Guide them, with love that never fades,
To do their best today!

Bless those who anxious vigils keep
By loved ones sinking, slow and deep;
Help them accept Your gift of sleep
For that exhausted clay!

Should their affliction end in death,
Take them, O Lord, who gave them breath;
In heaven, gather them beneath
Your throne until that Day!

And so, Lord Christ, Your will be done!
Be they restored to us or gone,
You are the Health of flesh and bone,
Our spirit’s Rest and Stay!

189. Hymn for Troubled Families
For this hymn, I went back to my own tune HOLY BODY, which I wrote in 2014 for my hymn on the fifth commandment, "You shall not murder."
Man and woman You created,
Lord, the parents of our race;
Though unlike, Your purpose mated
Two as one in loving grace.
When a marriage now is troubled,
Cause Your blessing to be doubled
On the bond You set in place!

Grant that he may do his duty
As her shield from shame and harm;
Grant that she, his grace and beauty,
May hold up his heart and arm!
Help them, sharing all together,
Every storm and strain to weather,
Temper cool and bosom warm!

When their first love’s heat is waning,
Let a stronger take its place:
Caring for each other, gaining
Second selves through active grace!
One another’s burdens bearing,
Friendship and forgiveness sharing,
May new love the old erase!

Should their children be divided
Or deprived of homely peace,
By Your word let them be guided;
Bless their conflict with release!
Every grudge with mercy lighten;
Shared respect and patience heighten;
Let Your healing love have lease!

If at last, dear Lord, their severance
Proves to be the lesser sin,
Through their penitential reverence
Pardon them, that they may win
With the church, Your bride, communion,
Till You consummate the union
And we rise, one cherished kin!

190. Hymn for Healing of Division
For this hymn I chose the 15th-century Bohemian tune SÆLIR ERU TRÚADIR, which I associate with Hallgrimur Petursson's Icelandic Passion hymn, "And then the Savior turned," a segment on Peter's denial of Jesus from a most impressive sequence of sacred poems. It was a tough meter to work with, though!
O Christ, the church’s Head,
Heal her divisions,
Nor let her be misled
By lying visions!

When You were bruised and torn,
For her sake bleeding,
The witness thereby borne
Let her be heeding!

You gave a dying thief
The hope of living;
You bore men’s unbelief,
Their scorn forgiving.

Your sin-atoning death,
Our pardon buying,
Is now our ground of faith,
Our hope while dying.

Since You died in our place,
God’s favor sealing,
So surely must that grace
Shape all our dealing!

You bade us, Lord, forgive
Our erring brother,
And as the servant live
Each of the other.

You prayed that we be one,
With joy abounding;
Now let that prayer be done,
From our hearts sounding!

Behold! Your body still
With wounds is weeping,
Its members their own will
And counsel keeping.

Lo! Some Your lambs divide
Through wicked teaching;
Some open points decide,
Our union breaching.

From needless strife preserve
The church; and answer
Through us, with steady nerve,
False teaching’s cancer!

Provide us minds to see
Your wisdom clearly,
And hearts with all to be
United dearly!

Should, Lord, the church remain
On earth divided,
Present us once again,
Above, united!

191. Hymn for Courage
I was tempted to call this "Terrorism Hymn," but I didn't want to seem to be promoting terrorism. I originally set this hymn to my own tune HEALING, which I wrote in 2011 to go with this hymn for an occasion of grief; but I didn't feel that it quite worked. So I asked my friend Robert Mayes to try writing an original tune for it, and he came up with this eloquently simple number, titled COURAGE. I like how its forward pulse suggests the momentum of unfolding events.
O Lord, our Strength and Song,
Deliverance You give;
Since Your right hand is strong,
We shall not die, but live.
As war and terror seek
All nations to possess,
Surround the poor and weak
With walls of righteousness!

Christ, sprinkle Your true blood
On those called forth to serve
In evil times with good,
In dens of fear with nerve!
Lend courage to our hearts,
That we Your works may tell;
Defend us from the darts
Hurled by the prince of hell!

O Spirit, of whose gifts
The fear of God is one,
Give us a fear that lifts
Our eyes to Christ, His Son!
When all alarms are past
And we have fought the fight,
Draw us on high at last
With all the sons of light!

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