Ascension Sunday – Paul’s Hymn Blog
Sunday, May 13 2018
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.”