Hymn Blog – December 8, 2019

Second Sunday of Advent
December 8, 2019
Psalm 72; Matthew 3:1-12; Romans 15:4-13

VU 18 – There’s a Voice in the Wilderness (1925) 
This hymn was written to commemorate the 1925 union of the Methodist, Congregational and a large portion of the Presbyterian Church in Canada into The United Church of Canada.  The text reflects the vision and expectation that existed at that time around the formation of a “national church.”  Author James Lewis Milligan, a journalist and Methodist lay preacher, was director of public relations for the uniting churches between 1922 and 1925. 
The tune, ASCENSION (BANCROFT), was composed in 1933 as a setting for this text by Henry Hugh Bancroft, organist and choirmaster of All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Edmonton, for the Anglican Book of Common Praise.

VU 7 – Hope Is a Star (1985)
Singing this hymn during the lighting of the advent candles has been a common practice at TSP over the years.  We sing the second stanza today.  The text is by Brian Wren, and was written for Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Chicago.  Wren is an internationally published hymn-poet whose work appears in hymnals from all denominations and traditions. He is an ordained minister in Britain’s United Reformed Church.  A Fellow of the Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada, Brian holds B.A. and D.Phil degrees from Oxford University and an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis. He is the author of several books on hymnology as well as a number of hymn collections. 
The lovely setting, MOON BEAMS, was composed by Joan Collier Fogg in 1987.

MV 71 – When the Wind of Winter Blows (1992)
This hymn text by Ruth Duck sets out negative images: “solitude”, “despair”, “death”, confounding “change”, “love burns low”, and associates them with the wind, cold and snow of winter.  The refrain is a prayer for “Holy Light” to warm the winter night.  Duck is professor emerita of worship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois and a United Church of Christ minister in the U.S.A.  Before coming to Garrett in 1989, she served as pastor at United Church of Christ parishes in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. Her undergraduate work was done at Southwestern-at-Memphis University, which is now called Rhodes College.  She holds two masters degrees – one from Chicago Theological Seminary and one from the University of Notre Dame. Her doctorate in theology was earned at Boston University. Her academic credentials are weighty ones and balance beautifully with her pastoral experience dealing with the everyday tasks as the spiritual leader of a parish community.  This balance of theory and practice illuminate her many hymn texts.  Ten of her hymns are in Voices United, and ten in More Voices.
The setting is by Lori True, a Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Music at the Church of St. Margaret Mary in Golden Valley, Minnesota, as well as the Associate Director of Music Ministry Alive!, a national liturgical music formation program for youth and adult leaders. In addition, Lori is active as a cantor, workshop and conference speaker, composer, concert performer, and recording artist. She has presented workshops for various national and regional conventions for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and has presented workshops and performed at conventions and conferences throughout the United States, Canada, and Ireland.

VU 34 – Come Now, O God of Peace (1988)
The tune, O-SO-SO, and Korean text are by Geonyong Lee, Korean theologian and composer.  It was published in Sound the Bamboo (1990), the hymn book of the Christian Council of Asia.  The English translation is by our own Marion Pope.  Marion is credited with translating this hymn in 17 different hymnals.

VU 17 – O Ancient Love (1994)
The text and tune are by Michael Joncas, a Catholic priest, liturgical and musical scholar, composer, and writer who has taught at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota) and at the University of Notre Dame.  The structure of this hymn is interesting: each of the twelve lines of the verses (4 stanzas of 3 lines) begins with “O {adjective} love”, with the adjectives providing a range of Christological attributes.  The refrain follows the same pattern, with the adjective “living” reminding us of the currency of the love we see in Christ, and the wonderful wordplay on “born” and “borne” indicating that we must both receive and carry that love.

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