Ascension Sunday – Paul’s Hymn Blog

Ascension Sunday – Paul’s Hymn Blog

Sunday, May 13 2018

Ascension Sunday

Stewardship Sunday

Matthew 6:19-21, Psalm 121, 2 Corinthians 9:6-14, Acts 2:44-47

by Paul Stott


GPTG 30 – For Brightly Greening Spring (2011)

Hymn poet Adam Tice was born in Boynton, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Alabama, Oregon, and Indiana. After graduating from high school in Elkhart, Indiana, he went to nearby Goshen College (BA in music [composition] and minor in Bible and religion, 2002) and then continued his studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart (MA in Christian formation, emphasis on worship, 2007). From 2007 to 2012 he served as the associate pastor of Hyattsville Mennonite Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. He has led singing at numerous Mennonite and ecumenical events, including the 2008 Hymn Sing for Peace on the steps of the U.S. Capitol reflecting pool. From 2007 to 2011 he served as Member-at-Large on the Executive of the Hymn Society, and currently serves as editor of the Hymn Society journal, The Hymn. GIA has published four collections of his hymns, Woven Into Harmony (Chicago, 2009), A Greener Place to Grow (Chicago, 2011), Stars Like Grace (Chicago, 2013), and Claim the Mystery (Chicago, 2015). His texts are found in many recent denominational hymnals, including More Voices, where he was first published. This text, from A Greener Place to Grow, celebrates the coming of spring and honours mothers. In a bit of quirky humour, Tice has set it to TERRA BEATA, associated with the text “This is My Father’s World.”
TERRA BEATA (blessed land) was composed by Franklin L. Sheppard in 1915, based on an English melody he learned in childhood from his mother. It bears a strong resemblance to the tune RUSPER, found in The English Hymnal (London, 1906).

MV 196 – We Will Take What You Offer (1998)

Our offertory hymn is a simple but profound chorus of commitment, written and composed by John L. Bell. Bell was born in, resides in, and belongs to Scotland. He is a liturgical composer who writes co-operatively with colleagues in Glasgow; he has a deep interest in music from non-European cultures and a passion for song of the Assembly. Though his primary vocation is as a preacher and teacher, he spends over half his time working in the areas of music and liturgy, both at conferences and in small parishes, and his work takes him frequently into Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North America. With his colleagues, he has produced over 15 collections of songs and octavos, and a wide range of liturgical materials, particularly for use by lay people. He has also authored a number of collections of sermons and meditations, and is an occasional broadcaster on radio and television.


MV 189 – Jesus, We Are Here (1990)

This hymn, originally in the Shona language serves as prayer response. Author, composer and translator Patrick Matsikenyiri was a key player in the founding of Africa University in Zimbabwe and served there as professor of music and choir director for many years. Since his retirement in 2002, he has been teaching at several U.S. institutions by invitation. His music is published in many hymnals and songbooks and sung in churches everywhere. Matsikenyiri has led workshops and worship services on African music throughout the world.


VU 218 – We Praise You, O God (1902)

This text was written by Julia Cory for a Thanksgiving service at the request of J. Arthur Gibson, her organist at Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Gibson sought a new text for this tune, to replace “We Gather Together”, which he called “militaristic and unchristian.” The original 16th century text, known as the “Dutch Hymn of Thanksgiving” was written in celebration of the release of the Netherlands from Spanish rule.
The tune, KREMSER, was arranged by the 17th century Viennese conductor, Eduard Kremser, from a tune published with the earlier text in a 17th century collection of Dutch folk songs. Hymnologist Paul Westermeyer describes KREMSER as a “through-composed tune in four four-measure phrases, just over an octave in range, and with an undulating and introspective character, it drapes over the text in a flowing canopy.”


On the Ground in Palestine, May 3, 2018

On the Ground in Palestine, May 3, 2018

Palestinian U.N. Aid Still $200 Million Short After Trump Cuts
From Reuters: “Emergency food aid for around a million Palestinians in Gaza may run out from June if the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees cannot raise another $200 million following a cut-off in U.S. funding, the agency said on Tuesday. … [Pierre] Kraehenbuehl, [who heads the U.N. Relief and Works Agency] warned of greater instability in Gaza in part because the economy is already suffering its deepest collapse after a decade of Israeli-led blockades, and internal Palestinian divisions in the coastal strip. Kraehenbuehl said the shortfall in funding for the agency could also mean there may not be enough money to re-open schools in August and September for the new academic year.”
Protest Casualties Compound Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis
Haaretz reported on UN numbers about the mass protests in Gaza: “Of the injured, 2,596 people were hospitalized in government hospitals, 773 in nongovernment hospitals and the rest were treated in the field. Of those in government hospitals, 1,499 were hit by live ammunition, 107 by sponge-tipped bullets, 408 suffered gas inhalation and 582 suffered other injuries; 2,142 were adults and 454 were minors. ‘Gaza’s health sector is struggling to cope with the mass influx of casualties, due to years of blockade, internal divide and a chronic energy crisis, which have left essential services in Gaza barely able to function,’ stated the report.”

 According to Sabeel, Jerusalem, May 3

A young deaf man, Tahrir Mahmoud Wahba, (18 years old), has died of the injuries he sustained during the ‘Great March of Return’ protest in the besieged Gaza Strip. The protest has continued for five weeks so far and during that time 45 Palestinians have been killed and 5500 have reportedly been injured.

Israeli authorities handed notifications on Saturday to confiscate forty two dunums, (over 10 acres) of Palestinian land in the village of al-Khader, to the south of Bethlehem in the Occupied West Bank.

In May 2014, Nadim Nuwarra, a 17-year-old youth, was taking part in a protest at the Beitunia checkpoint in the Occupied West Bank. Israeli border police officer Ben Deri was filmed shooting him dead, even though the lad posed no danger. Ben Deri has been sentenced to nine months in prison in a plea bargain with the Israeli Jerusalem District Court.

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Paul’s Hymn Blog

Sixth Sunday of Easter – Paul’s Hymn Blog

Sunday, May 6 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Psalm 98

by Paul Stott


VU 820 – Make a Joyful Noise (1991)

This upbeat setting of Psalm 100 is by Vancouver composer Linea Good, from her collection Stickpeople (1992). Linnea is a well known United Church musician, who tours extensively across Canada. Five of her hymns are in Voices United and ten in More Voices.
The arrangement is by David Kai, who grew up in Toronto attending the Centennial-Japanese United Church. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto, the Humber College music program where he specialized in arranging and composing, and The Centre for Christian Studies. Commissioned as a diaconal minister in 1987, David served in pastoral charges in Birtle, Manitoba, Orleans, Ontario and Ajax, Ontario. David has written hymn tunes and arrangements in collaboration with authors and composers such as Ruth Duck, Linnea Good, Neil Lemke, Pat Mayberry, Jeeva Sam, Doreen Lankshear-Smith and Brian Wren. He was a member of the committee that produced the Voices United hymn book, and also provided music for the Bible Quest curriculum. His hymns and arrangements have appeared in hymn books and collections in Canada, China and the USA.

MV 145 – Draw the Circle Wide (1994)

We continue to use the refrain and first stanza of this hymn with our children before they leave for Childrens’ Church. See previous weeks blogs for additional information about this hymn.


VU 460 – All Who Hunger (1990)

This text by the late Sylvia Dunstan uses the image of manna in the wilderness for the bread of communion. It originally appeared in In Search of Hope and Grace: 40 Hymns and Gospel Songs (Chicago, 1991). Sylvia said she wrote the text after attending the 1990 Hymn Society conference in Charleston, South Carolina. It was here that she became acquainted with shape-note tunes, and when on vacation following the conference she worked out the text while walking up and down Folly Beach, singing the tune HOLY MANNA.
HOLY MANNA was written in the early nineteenth century and was first published in The Columbian Harmony ed. William Moore (Cincinnati, 1825).
The original text by George Askins (d. 1816) for this tune, which provides the tune name, begins:

Brethren, we have met to worship,
And adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power,
While we try to preach the word?
All is vain unless the Spirit
Of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren pray and holy manna
Will be showered all around.


VU 466 – Eat This Bread (1983)

Our Communion chant was written by Robert J. Batastini, in collaboration with Brother Robert and Jacques Bertier, while he was at the Taizé centre in France in 1983. The text is adapted from
John 6:35. In the Taizé style, it is simple enough to be used in coming to communion without needing a hymn book. Batastini was born in Chicago, studied music education, instrumental music, and church music at DePaul University, and served Roman Catholic churches as organist and choirmaster in several locations in Illinois. He began work at GIA Publications as an editor, later becoming vice president and senior editor. He is a fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.
The setting, EAT THIS BREAD, also called BERTHIER, is by Jacques Berthier, written the afternoon the text was written. He is the composer of much of the Taizé Community music. Born in 1923, he was the son of two organists who were his first teachers. He studied chant, harmony, composition and organ at the César Franck School in Paris. He served as organist at St Ignace Jesuit Church in Paris from 1961 until his death in 1994. He began his work on the Taizé repertoire in the 1970’s.


VU 367 – Come Down, O Love Divine c.1400

The original Italian text was written by Bianco da Siena (c. 1350-c. 1434), a lay member of a 14th-century order, one of approximately 90 hymns that were finally published more than 400 years after his death as Laudi Spirituali [Spiritual Songs] (Lucca, 1851). Siena was the centre for the development of spiritual song, written in the vernacular Italian, and thus intended for the ordinary people. The translator, Richard Frederick Littledale (1833-1890) chose four of the seven original stanzas for his translation, of which three are in common use today. The translation first appeared in The People’s Hymnal (London, 1867). The text emphasises the gift of the Holy Spirit to the individual without any triumphalism, but with a sense of awed, humbled acceptance, not a possession to be boasted about, but a blessing to be cherished.
The tune DOWN AMPNEY is by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Down Ampney is the Gloucestershire village where the composer was born, the son of the vicar there. The tune is one of the few original hymn settings Vaughan Williams created for The English Hymnal (London, 1906) and has ever been identified with this text. Unlike many of his other well-known hymn tunes, this one was composed as a four-part setting, rather than a unison vocal line against a full organ accompaniment.