Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Crop of New Hymns

I described my recent "Prayer for Addiction" as the first in a new crop of hymns that I have planned as part of my projected book Edifying Hymns, the sequel to Useful Hymns. A lot has been going on lately with that book; it's coming together fast, though there is still a lot of room for it to grow. Over the past few days, I've knuckled down and developed a bunch of new texts, mostly set to existing tunes either by myself or someone else, for purposes I identified as being due for a fresh hymn treatment. So, here's more of this "crop," but don't worry; there are at least as many again to go before I have to pause and plan again. Note: The tunes for Hymns 249 and 250 are interchangeable. Also, the tune to 247 should not be confused with the better-known ST. COLUMBA. While I'm mentioning it, I acknowledge not all these hymns are of the highest quality to which my work has ever attained; 247 in particular suffered, I think, from a too-cramped meter and rhyme scheme. But as my beloved brother very helpfully says about 32 times a day, "It is what it is."
244. Prayer for the Imprisoned
Tune: DEBENHAM (Richard Redhead, 1820-88)
Lord of life, whose dying freed us
From the chains of sin and hell:
To the prisoner now lead us,
Stinting not, good news to tell.

Grant that, visiting and caring
For the least of these and worst,
We may follow You in sharing
Bread with those despised and cursed.

Open wide their inward prison,
Dark, curved in on self, enslaved;
House in them the broad horizon
Held in trust for all the saved.

Let them know the peace of living
Freed from guilt and holy wrath
By Your verdict, all forgiving,
And Your purifying bath.

Help them breathe Your Spirit daily,
Walk in light, and freely love
Till, acquitted at Your bailey,
Into boundless life they move.

245. Prayer About Poverty
Tune: HOLY DESIRE (R. D. Fish, 2014)
Jesus, Lover of the poor,
Who the widow’s penny reckoned
Not the least of gifts, but more
Than another’s castoff second,
Give them faith that firm will stand
Though to famine they be beckoned;
Feed them from Your goodly hand
Till they come to pastures fecund.

You required the rich young man
To disperse his cherished treasure,
Lest his own works-righteous plan
Bar him from eternal pleasure.
Oh, that he had to Your word
Given thought again at leisure,
On the poor his wealth conferred,
And been blessed in equal measure!

Oh, that we as well might give
As You, Lord, to us have given!
Unaware by whom we live
Or with what need we have striven,
Shall we pass the beggar by,
Striding eyes-ahead to heaven,
While an angel from on high
From our heels, unknown, be driven?

May it never be, dear Lord!
Rather, pardon us and lead us
All to live in one accord,
Feed the hungry as You feed us,
Shelther, clothe, and give to drink
E’en where mocking words precede us;
Nor of their deserts to think,
But that fellow sinners need us.

Christ, made poor that we might be
Heirs with You of God the Father,
Pour Your gifts abundantly
Where like hungry chicks we gather.
Let our powers here be bent
Toward the needs of sister, brother.
Soon throw down the heavens’ tent!
Be our wealth; we own no other!

246. Prayer for Political Leaders
Tune: EXSURGAT DEUS (R. D. Fish, 2014)
God bless the leaders of our land,
Who have their lawful office from His hand.
May they the sword with justice wield,
With equity promote the nation’s yield.

Let those who rule aspire to serve,
Nor from the course of upright duty swerve.
With honor let them hold the reins;
Let our esteem and trust reward their pains.

Let evildoers be afraid,
While prospers ev’ry good and useful trade;
So far as may be in their brief,
Let those who govern foster pure belief.

May God restrain the tyrant’s will,
Nor let the anarchist contrive our ill;
Turn back our land’s aggressive foes,
And show us means to heal our inward woes.

To God the Father, to His Son,
And to the Holy Spirit, Three in One,
We give but what from Him descend:
Pow’r, riches, wisdom, glory without end.

247. For Peace and Public Safety Officers
Tune: ST. COLUMBIA (Herbert S. Irons, 1861)
On officers of peace
Have mercy, Lord.
Their angel guard increase;
Help them till troubles cease.

As they patrol their beats,
Have mercy, Lord.
Make soft their shoes or seats
While they keep safe our streets.

With each call or alarm,
Have mercy, Lord.
In any threat of harm,
Protect them with Your arm.

On ev’ry neighborhood
Have mercy, Lord;
Restrain whoever would
Therein shed guiltless blood.

Because they are but dust,
Have mercy, Lord.
Draw weapons though they must,
Restore the people’s trust.

On their integrity
Have mercy, Lord;
As nearly as may be,
Let them be blemish free.

While they enforce the law,
Have mercy, Lord.
Upon Your gospel draw;
Forgive the sinner’s flaw.

248. For Service Personnel and Veterans
Tune: MELITA (John B. Dykes, 1861)
Commander of the heav’nly host,
Dear Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Thrice-holy Lord, whom angels laud:
Be also earthly forces’ God!
Help them their needful task to do
With courage, strength and honor true.

Grant those who serve in every branch –
Land, sea and air – a spirit staunch,
In peace to serve, in war to fight,
To stand in darkness for the light.
In barrack as on battlefield,
Be our defenders’ hope and shield!

When they return, help those who find
Fresh battles in their flesh and mind.
The wounded limb and spirit lift;
Pour on them ev’ry holy gift.
At any peril let us prove
The strength of our respect and love.

249. Prayer to Open Church Meetings
Tune: PETERBOROUGH (John Goss, 1864)
Lord of the church, to You belongs
All that we have; not only songs
And sentiments, but all the reign.
Our counsels, therefore, now constrain
To trust Your word and hew thereto;
To learn Your will and so to do;
In blameless doctrine to concur;
To wiser voices to defer.

Keep our deliberations free
From worship of prosperity,
From pride or lust for worldly fame,
From shrinking courage or from shame,
From love of rule or fear of cost,
From small concern about the lost,
From jealous spite or party lines,
Or misplaced faith in our designs.

Let peaceful love and patience guide
The small decisions we decide,
Nor let our conduct here besmirch
The good name of Your bride, the church.
In God the Father’s mighty name,
And in the Son’s, who from Him came,
And in the Spirit’s, Three in One,
We pray: Amen, Your will be done!

250. Prayer to Close Church Meetings
Tune: O GROSSER GOTT (Stuttgart, 1744)
Lord, as from business we adjourn,
Bless our departure and return.
Our useful works by grace accept;
Make small the harm where we misstepped.
Teach, by the fruits of what we do,
That good things only come from You;
Help us to learn, all else above,
To walk and work as one in love.

Now bless and keep us by Your grace;
Now shine on us Your kindly face;
Clothed in Your Lamb’s unblemished fleece,
With favor send us on in peace.
In God the Father’s mighty name,
And in the Son’s, who from Him came,
And in the Spirit’s, One in Three,
We pray: Amen, so let it be!

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