Hymn Blog – June 30, 2019

Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 30, 2019

Psalm 72; Psalm 19; Psalm 22:1-10; Luke 4:14-21

VU 310 – God, Who Touches Earth with Beauty (1925)
Canadian author Mary S. Edgar directed Camp Glen Bernard on Lake Bernard, near Sundridge, Ontario for over 30 years.  Her beautiful words for this hymn poem are a prayer using stunning images of nature as similes for elements of our human character.  The text of this hymn appears on a cairn, on the shore of the Lake . 
The tune, GLEN BERNARD, was composed for this text by James Edmund Jones, a hymnologist who served as convenor of the committees for the 1908 and 1938 editions of Anglican Book of Common Praise.

VU 388 – Spirit Dancing (1989)
This hymn was written by Walter Farquharson, moderator of the United Church from 1990-1992.  Walter writes “Spirit Dancing, written in 1988, became the theme of a number of events in 1992 during my term as United Church Moderator, when artists and story-tellers and makers of music were encouraged to gather to be open to what the Spirit and the Word might work amongst and within us.  Many summer mornings as Joan and I sit on our deck overlooking Anderson Lake, tiny reflections of sunlight dance across the waves and we are called to contemplate the dance of the Spirit of God through the story and stories of our faith and through the story and stories that today unfold in our lives and the lives of neighbours near and far.
I remain convinced that the most important events in our lives will always be reflected somehow in stories and songs – both those we create and those we have been gifted with by others.  
Our stories and songs, our metaphors , will continue to be one of the primary ways we have to access and interpret the events and experiences of which we are part.” 
The tune, SPIRIT DANCING, is by songwriter Lori Erhardt, like Walter a Saskatchewan native .

MV 53 – God Who Spread the Boundless Prairie (2002)
 This lovely hymn text begins and ends with creation images that reflect our Canadian landscapes.  Recognized as the best known and one of the most highly regarded preachers in the Anglican Church, hymn text author Herbert O’Driscoll is a former urban Cathedral Dean in Vancouver, British Columbia, and former Warden of the College of Preachers, Washington National Cathedral. He is the celebrated author of 30 books, including A Doorway in Time, a reflection of his own Celtic spirituality, and Emmanuel, written while in the Holy Land. In great demand as a speaker and conference leader, O’Driscoll is at once a brilliant scholar and mesmerizing Irish storyteller. 
Composer Judith Snowdon was born in England but completed her formal music education in Canada. A recipient of ARCTs from The Royal Conservatory of Music in both Piano Performance and Piano Pedagogy, she completed her formal composition studies at Canadian Mennonite University (Bachelor of Church Music) and the University of Winnipeg (Gold Medalist – Bachelor of Arts). An award winning composer and accomplished church musician, Judith also managed a successful private studio for over twenty years and currently teaches piano at The Chocolate River Conservatory in Dieppe, NB. Judith also works part-time for the Mennonite Central Committee and serves as organist/choir director at McKees Mills United Church in New Brunswick where she lives.

MV 3 – River (2006)
Author/Composer Julian Pattison is an active pianist/singer/songwriter in the vicinity of Vancouver, British Columbia. His current involvement focuses primarily towards the development of new music, as well as providing music resources for congregations and groups within the United Church of Canada. Julian found his passion for music at an early age. His piano style combines elements of classical, pop, jazz, latin, blues, gospel and folk in order to create a vibrant musical presence. He leads music at Mount Seymour United Church.

MV 37 – Each Blade of Grass (2005)
Keri Wehlander is an author, hymn lyricist, liturgical dancer and leader of retreats and workshops. Spirituality and the arts provide a primary focus for her work in various settings in both her native Canada and the U.S.  She has written this text , celebrating the many wonders of creation.
It is to a tune adapted from RHODE ISLAND, a shape note tune from The United States Sacred Harmony, a songbook published by Amos Pilsbury in Boston in 1799.  The arrangement is by Linnea Good.

MV 135 – Called by Earth and Sky (2005)
Words and music are by Pat Mayberry, a singer songwriter with a passion for melody and harmony, who writes music which touches the listener deeply.  She began singing in Ottawa in 2001. She has written for the Seasons of the Spirit and Bible Quest church school curricula.  Her songs have been inspired by her personal and spiritual journey, and weave together universal themes of love, justice, and healing. She has a gift for the blend of words and music and strives to find the perfect match of sounds! Inclusive language and spirituality are key elements of Pat’s work. Her music is often used at workshops and retreats and for personal reflection. As stated in More Voices, this text is “a call to live with respect in Creation, celebrating the ancient tradition of the four elements.” Each stanza names and honours one of the elements, with the chorus calling us to our sacred responsibility to maintain our gift of the creation. 

VU 614 – In Suffering Love (1983)
When we go through personal crises we need the assurance that God is with us.  This hymn reminds us that God shares our pain, and that out of our suffering new hope can be reborn.  Author Rob Johns was a United Church minister serving in Winnipeg, who tragically died at age 45, three years after this hymn was written.

MV 84 In You There Is a Refuge (2005)
The text is by Keri Wehlander – see MV 37 above.  The text assures us that when we encounter chaos and discord in our lives, God provides us with a centering silence and peace.

VU 679 – Let There Be Light (1968)
This beautiful text by Canadian poet Frances Wheeler Davis is a prayer for light and enlightenment.  The structure of the text is worthy of study.  We first observe that the whole six stanzas are a prayer consisting of a single sentence.  The first four stanzas contain four lines, each beginning with the same verb – “let” in stanza one, then; “open,” “perish,” and “hallow.”  Stanza five uses the same structure except the first word of each line is “your,” with an implied “may.”  The final stanza recalls the first four, as each line begins with the verb from each of them. 
Canadian composer Robert Fleming wrote the lovely tune CONCORD.

VU 411 O God We Call (1994)
The text and music of our prayer response are by Linnea Good.  Linnea is a singer-songwriter, musical animator and educator whose life’s work is to help people celebrate their lives – especially through music. Her base is her Canadian culture, community and Christian faith tradition.  Linnea travels extensively, seeking connections between the new and the old, the head and the heart, between male and female, children and adults, between those who pray and those who act.

VU 584 – Through the Heart of Every City (1987) 
This text was written by the late Sylvia Dunstan, United Church minister, hymn poet and Fellow of the Hymn Society.  It was commissioned for the 250th anniversary of First and Central Presbyterian church in Wilmington Deleware. The text weaves biblical imagery into a description of the need of a modern city for compassionate care.
The tune, HERMON, was composed in 1935 by Charles Venn Pilcher, professor of New Testament at Toronto’s Wycliffe College, and precentor at St. Alban’s Anglican Church.

VU 691 – Though Ancient Walls (1974)
This hymn comes from strong United Church sources.  Author Walter Farquharson, former moderator of the United Church (1990-92), lives in Saltcoats, Saskatchewan where he was settled in 1961 and served in pastoral ministry until his retirement.  He is the author of hundreds of hymns, of which 13 appear in Voices United and 2 in More Voices.  Walter states “When the World Council of Churches was meeting in Nairobi (1975) they had as their theme the breaking down of walls of division that separated people from people (Ephesians 2:14).  In preparation for that they called for the writing of hymns and prayers based on that theme.  Ron Klusmeier suggested we collaborate so I wrote and he composed, and ‘Walls that Divide’ or ‘Though Ancient Walls’ was born.  It was thrilling for me that it was sung when the United Church General Council hosted an event with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and even more when I met the Archbishop in Capetown and he remembered me as the author of that hymn and affirmed the power of its message.  During my time as Moderator (1990-92) it was probably the most used of the hymns I had written.” 
Klusmeier, who serves the congregation of Knox United Church in Parksville, British Columbia as Minister of Music, has 17 of his tunes in Voices United and 10 in More Voices.  This hymn comes from a collection the two produced with Fred Kaan, entitled Worship the Lord (1977).  A unison version of the hymn appeared in Songs for a Gospel People (1987), and Klusmeier produced this four-part version for Voices United.

MV 169 – When Hands Reach Out Beyond Divides (2005)
The author is Keri Wehlander – see MV 37 above.  The text envisions a new world where compassion and the elimination of fear and prejudice brings peace, healing, and freedom.
The tune, SALEM, is from the 1854 edition of Southern Harmony, a shaped note hymn book from the Sacred Harp tradition, where it is set to the text “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.”

MV 218 – May the Love of the Lord (2000)
While all the previous hymns are by native Canadians, since Canada continues to be enriched by immigrants who choose to make their lives here, it is appropriate that we close with a blessing written by Maria Ling Poh Choo, and a tune by her partner Swee Hong Lim.  they came to Canada in 2012 for Swee Hong to take up the position of Associate Professor of Sacred Music at Emmanuel College.

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