Rich Man and Lazarus Holman Pictorial Bible Salesman’s sample
As we gather at your table,
as we listen to your word,
help us know, O God, your presence;
let our hearts and minds be stirred.
Nourish us with sacred story
till we claim it as our own;
teach us through this holy banquet
how to make Love’s victory known.
Turn our worship into witness
in the sacrament of life;
send us forth to love and serve you,
bringing peace where there is strife.
Give us, Christ, your great compassion
to forgive as you forgave;
may we still behold your image
in the world you died to save.
Gracious Spirit, help us summon
other guests to share that feast
where triumphant Love will welcome
those who had been last and least.
There no more will envy blind us,
nor will pride our peace destroy,
as we join with saints and angels
to repeat the sounding joy.
A beautiful performance of Addison’s hymn.
My favorite image: “The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth repeats the story of her birth.”
The spacious firmament on high,
with all the blue ethereal sky,
and spangled heavens, a shining frame,
their great Original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day
does his Creator’s power display,
and publishes to every land
the work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail
the moon takes up the wondrous tale,
and nightly to the listening earth
repeats the story of her birth;
whilst all the stars that round her burn,
and all the planets in their turn,
confirm the tidings, as they roll,
and spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
move round the dark terrestrial ball;
what though no real voice nor sound
amid their radiant orbs be found;
in reason’s ear they all rejoice,
and utter forth a glorious voice,
for ever singing as they shine,
‘The hand that made us is divine.’
Words: Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Tune: not the one in my hymnal!
I know you don’t usually click on the videos you see posted on the internet. That’s why someone got the bright idea to make them play automatically–overcoming our haste and limited curiosity; figuring humans might stay for a moment if the show were already in progress. Tempted. Persuaded.
I won’t take on the role of tempter today, nor salesman, nor even evangelist. I can only offer myself and this space as a conduit. But I will ask you to take a few minutes to listen–if only in the background of your busy life–so that the depth and breadth of God’s kindness and compassion might wash over you and bring you peace.
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 welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good; there is mercy with the Savior; there is healing in his blood.
There is no place where earth’s sorrows are more felt than in heaven; there is no place where earth’s failings have such kindly judgment given. There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed; there is joy for all the members in the sorrows of the Head.
For the love of God is broader than the measure of man’s mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind. If our love were but more faithful, we should take him at his word; and our life would be thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.
Words: Frederick William Faber, 1862
Tune: St. Helena
This stirring hymn was written in Latin by the Franciscan friar Jean Tisserand (b. France, 15th century; d. 1494). According to www.Hymnary.org it was found in an untitled booklet printed in Paris between 1518 and 1536. A popular preacher (“The most hardened hearts could not resist his sermons,” says the French Wikipedia essay.), Tisserand also founded the Refuge of St. Madeleine, an institution for women seeking refuge from prostitution.
John M. Neale translated the text into twelve stanzas, which were published in his Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1851). Since then, versions of Tissand’s hymn and Neale’s translation have been published in 156 hymnals.
Christ Enthroned Book of Kells Trinity College, Dublin
I was feeling flat and tired one day when a Goshen college choir came on the radio to sing a rousing version of this hymn. The crowd roared their approval, and I too was energized. Turned around, if you will. The lyrics seem to me a curious mix of fury and tenderness, but not unlike the world itself. Perhaps that’s why people vary the tempo so much when they sing it. Meanwhile, I did find the creator’s blog and I’ll quote his thoughts below.
The idea of “turning” in the title was both a nod to the inner conceit of “revolution,” (derived from the Latin “volvere,” which means “to turn”) and to the message of Jesus’s preaching in all three of the synoptic gospels, the core message of which was, “Repent, and believe the good news.” “Repent” translates a Greek verb the noun form of which is metanoia, that is to say, a complete change of the self, of mind and heart, which might also be rendered as “turn around.” — Rory Cooney
Canticle of the Turning
Author: Rory Cooney
Tune: STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN
1. My soul cries out with a joyful shout
that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things
that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight,
and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near,
and the world is about to turn!
2. Though I am small, my God, my all,
you work great things in me,
And your mercy will last from the depths of the past
to the end of the age to be.
Your very name puts the proud to shame,
and to those who would for you yearn,
You will show your might, put the strong to flight,
for the world is about to turn.
3. From the halls of power to the fortress tower,
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
ev’ry tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more,
for the food they can never earn;
There are tables spread, ev’ry mouth be fed,
for the world is about to turn.
4. Though the nations rage from age to age,
we remember who holds us fast:
God’s mercy must deliver us
from the conqueror’s crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forebears heard
is the promise which holds us bound,
‘Til the spear and rod can be crushed by God,
who is turning the world around.
The Saturday of Easter Vigil had unexpectedly exploded into anger and pain. Bewildered, grieving–all the feelings you have when struggling with someone you love–I found myself inside the Church’s most joyful service and, not being reconciled, unable to bring myself to receive communion.
The service continued: the long drama of worship leading up to the moment when the Resurrection was announced and the congregation would ring bells–sounding the victory while the priest walked the aisles casting baptismal water on the parish. That night I had no bell and, I remember searching frantically during the festal shout for something I could substitute–keys, a ringtone. The moment was passing, and overwhelmed by loneliness, I knew only that Easter was far away.
Then in the midst of all my despair, a single drop of water hit me and broke the spell. I was brought out of myself–not to joy, but at least to life. I was in a place where Easter was proclaimed. It was a moment of grace in deep darkness. A touch to call me back.
When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain
Thy touch can call us back to life again…
Today’s illustration is a painting by M.W. Remington called “God Made the Stars” which appeared in ABC Stories of Jesus by Mildred Speakes Edwards (Warner Press, 1954). Like many Bible story books, this one tries to help children see connections between their own lives and the stories from scripture, and to sense God’s presence in the world.
To go with the Remington painting is a hymn I first learned from the 1955 Presbyterian Hymnbook: “As With Gladness Men of Old.” My favorite words are printed below, and you can either sing along karaoke-style with the Eminent Organ at St Madocs Church Llanmadoc, Gower Swansea, or join in with the very joyful choir and audience/congregation for Corban University’s Lessons and Carols.
Most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to thee.
Words: William Chatterton Dix, 1860. He wrote this hymn on the day of the Epiphany, while sick in bed; it was first published in his Hymns of Love and Joy.
According to the writer Ancientandmodern, “I learned a very important lesson from this hymn: the right words are the ones that were in your school hymnbook, and any other words are dead wrong.”
I suspect we’ve all felt that moment of strangeness in worship where you’re going along reciting the Lord’s Prayer or singing a familiar hymn, and you suddenly realize that the rest of the congregation is not using the same words you are. We can cope if we’re visiting a new church, but if it’s a new hymnal or liturgy book in our own church home–count yourself lucky if there’s no riot after the service!
This version by the Huddersfield Choral Society combines lyrics from two English hymnals: Ancient and Modern and The English Hymnal. Sung at a rousing good tempo, the resulting hybrid captures creation’s joy at Christ’s coming while omitting some of the imperialism found in earlier texts. There other meditative and more moderately-paced interpretations (some with different lyrics), but this one made me believe that the hills were rejoicing, so it’s the one I’ll share.
Hope your Advent preparations are going well. Jesus is coming!
Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Christ comes in righteousness and love,
He brings salvation from above.
Isles of the Southern seas,
Sing to the listening earth,
Carry on every breeze
Hope of a world’s new birth:
In Christ shall all be made anew,
His word is sure, his promise true.
Lands of the East, arise,
He is your brightest morn,
Greet him with joyous eyes,
Praise shall his path adorn:
The God whom you have longed to know
In Christ draws near, and calls you now.
Shores of the utmost West,
Lands of the setting sun,
Welcome the heavenly guest
In whom the dawn has come:
He brings a never-ending light
Who triumphed o’er our darkest night.
Shout, as you journey on,
Songs be in every mouth,
Lo, from the North they come,
From East and West and South:
In Jesus all shall find their rest,
In him the sons of earth be blest.