The virtual hymn practice of St Francis Parish: Sunday 26 July 2015
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Sorry that I didn’t have time to do an E-Hymnsing last week, but hope you enjoy this one.
By the way, please do make a note of the next presentation by the St Francis Singers, which will get your feet tapping with some old favourites. It will be in the form of a supper club at 6.00 pm on Saturday 1 August, at St Francis. Entrance is FREE!
Director of Music
St Francis Anglican Parish
Sunday 26 July 2015
The Gospel readings for this Sunday are about Jesus’s feeding of the 5000 and walking on the water, while the New Testament reading from Ephesians is Paul’s well-known letter in which he prays that his readers will be able to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”
This thought is reflected in our first hymn, which is from the new hymnbook, and asks that we might find in fuller measure what we share in Christ. The Welsh tune, Blaenwern, is sometimes sung to “Love divine, all loves excelling.” You can listen to it here sung by a mass Welsh choir at London’s Royal Albert Hall – soul-stirring stuff! It was also one of the tunes sung at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton:
The words follow:
God is here! As we his people
meet to offer praise and prayer,
may we find in fuller measure
what it is in Christ we share.
Here, as in the world around us,
all our varied skills and arts
wait the coming of his Spirit
into open minds and hearts.
Here are symbols to remind us
of our lifelong need of grace;
here are table, font and pulpit;
here the cross has central place.
Here in honesty of preaching,
here in silence, as in speech,
here, in newness and renewal,
God the Spirit comes to each.
Here our children find a welcome
in the Shepherd’s flock and fold,
here, as bread and wine are taken,
Christ sustains us as of old.
Here the servants of the Servant
seek in worship to explore
what it means in daily living
to believe and to adore.
Lord of all, of Church and Kingdom,
in an age of change and doubt,
keep us faithful to the gospel,
help us work your purpose out.
Here, in this day’s dedication,
all we have to give, receive:
we, who cannot live without you,
we adore you! We believe!
Having opened the service in rousing style, the Gradual prepares us for the upcoming Gospel reading. This hymn was written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, a contemporary hymnwriter and priest in the USA. Carolyn’s hymns are thought-provoking and reflect a Christian response to the issues of our modern era. (If you’d like to read more about her, you’ll find some info here:
“Where is bread?” the great crowd murmured—
Thousands strong, yet all in need.
“Where is bread?” your people wondered,
Faced with such a crowd to feed.
Who, Lord Jesus, could have guessed it?
One small boy brought food to share.
Taking what he gave, you blessed it;
All were fed, with much to spare.
Where is bread? We know their yearning;
Every day, we wish for more.
God, in time, we’re slowly learning:
All we own can make us poor.
Our possessions can possess us,
Leaving hunger deep inside.
Christ our Bread, come now and bless us;
At your feast, we’re satisfied.
“Where is bread?” the call is rising;
Millions cry who must be fed.
God, your answer seems surprising:
“You, my Church, you give them bread.”
Bread to fill each hungry spirit,
Bread for hungry stomachs, too!
Give us bread and help us share it.
Richly blest, may we serve you.
We’ll sing this to a tune called “Nkosi Yam” which is also sometimes sung to “Love divine, all loves excelling.” Here is a recording of it, sung by the Salvation Army songsters of Soweto:
The Offertory hymn is an appropriate response to both the Ephesians and Gospel readings, telling us about the wideness of God’s mercy:
There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than up in heaven;
there is no place where earth’s failings
have such kindly judgement given.
For the love of God is broader
than the measure of our mind,
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
But we make his love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify his strictness
with a zeal he would not own.
There is plentiful redemption
through the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.
There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in that upper home of bliss.
If our love were but more simple,
we should take him at his word;
and our lives would be all gladness
in the joy of Christ our Lord.
The tune is Corvedale, sung here by the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, with its fantastic acoustics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raMn2iV9x2E
Our final hymn – To God be the glory – should warm your heart and soul and send you out into the week in top spirit. To get you in the mood, listen to this incredible recording, again from London’s Royal Albert Hall:
To God be the glory, great things he hath done!
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the lifegate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done!
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher, and greater will be
our wonder, our rapture, when Jesus we see.
And, from the midst of the Drakensberg, I can only agree – To God be the glory!
Blessings and good things and see you Sunday!