Archive for the 'Worship' Category

24
Feb
17

A Window on early Primitive Methodist Meetings

While reading Hugh Bourne’s History of the Primitive Methodists (1823) at the Rylands library last summer I came across this interesting set of “advices” for leading meetings.  The context, as Bourne relates it, was that some in the PMC were allowing preaching to go on too long, thereby not allowing enough time for prayer.

There are several aspects of these outlines that I find interesting. One is how much attention is given to technique, and keeping things moving along. Not only is long preaching excluded, but so are long speeches from members in the class meeting.  I also find it interesting that, although these outlines are 200 years old, one can still recognize some features of these services in the routinized revivalism of many evangelical denominations (the “song sandwich” approach, for example, that many of us grew up with). Another noteworthy feature is the lack of attention to scripture. For several years now I have been quite concerned about the disappearance of the public reading of scripture from evangelical worship services. However, reflecting on these outlines causes me to think that the neglect of scripture readings is very deep-seated in the revivalist stream of evangelical worship.

Advices for Meetings

Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1819

Source: Hugh Bourne, History of the Primitive Methodists Giving an Account of Their Rise and Progress up to the Year 1823. (Bemersley: Printed for the author, at the Office of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, by J. Bourne, 1823), 59-60.

Outline of a Preaching Service.

“Let all the exercises, in general, be short. The preaching whenever it can, should be followed by a prayer meeting. From the beginning of the service to the end of the sermon, should up about three quarters of an hour; and the prayer meeting should continue about half an hour; the whole to conclude in about an hour and a quarter. After the conclusion, prayer must be made for mourners; or the society may meet for about twenty minutes. Long preachings generally injure both the preachers’ constitution and the cause of religion.”

Outline of a Prayer Meeting.

  1. Open with singing for about four, five, or six minutes.
  2. Spend four, five, or six minutes in prayer, ending with the Lord’s Prayer.
  3. Sing about two, three or four minutes.
  4. Let the members of the society prayer in quick succession, for two, three, or four minutes each.

When mourners are in distress, or in any other particular cases, the exercises may be lengthened. But, in general, long exercises in public, are improper and injurious; and should be carefully avoided. And if any one trespass by attempting to drag out to an improper length, the next meeting of the society may determine what remedy shall be applied to such impropriety.

  1. Let a little singing be occasionally intermingled to vary the exercises.
  2. If exhortations be given, they may be for two or three, or from that to six or eight minutes. Short exhortations are useful.
  3. Conclude in an hour or an hour and a quarter.
  4. On suitable occasions, prayer may again commence, and especially if there by souls in distress.
  5. This outline may be judiciously varied at any point, as circumstances may require.

Outline of a Class Meeting.

  1. Open with singing for about four, five, or six minutes
  2. Let for or five minutes be spent in prayer, ending with the Lord’s Prayer.
  3. Sing about two, or three minutes.
  4. Leader speak one or two minutes, chiefly to his own experience.
  5. Let fifteen, or from that to twenty minutes, be spent in conversation of the leader with the members.

In speaking to one, the leader, in effect, speaks to all; and it will on some occasions, be found difficult to keep up the attention of the whole meeting for twenty minutes together. But the leader passing from one to another in quick succession will be a great means to keep the attention alive. Also the leader may give out a verse and sing in the midst of the work.

If a class have fifteen or sixteen members, the average time of speaking should be under a minute with each member. If there be twenty or thirty members it should be still less. In particular cases, more time may be spent with any of the members.

If a member have acquired or be acquiring a habit of long speaking, then, the leader, after dropping a few words, must immediately pass on to the next, and begin at once to speak to the next. If this be not attended to the meeting will soon be injured.

  1. When the speaking is concluded, sing for two, three, or four minutes.
  2. Then let the members pray in quick succession, for about two or three minutes each. The leader must take care that none of them trespass upon time.
  3. Intermingle occasionally a little singing to vary the exercise.
  4. Be careful and exact in settling the class paper.
  5. Conclude in an hour, or an hour and a quarter.
  6. This outline may be judiciously varied in any point, as circumstances may require.
14
Mar
13

Nouwen: happy are those who carry the Psalms in their hearts

Giovannino de Grassi Psalm 118 (119), Biblioteca Nazionale Florence via wikimedia commonsSince my time in seminary I have been praying the Psalms according to the two month plan offered in the  Book of Common Prayer.    The Psalms, of course, have served as perhaps the greatest source of wisdom and guidance in the history of Christian worship and spirituality.  They are indeed “the prayer book of the Bible”  (Bonhoeffer), and can give voice to our own prayers in an amazing variety of circumstances.

As time goes by, I find myself less inclined to attempt to compose my own prayers.  I would much rather submit myself to these rich forms of prayer that have nourished and inspired my brothers and sisters down through the centuries.      

I think those of us who find ourselves in “free” worship traditions tend to think of extemporaneous prayer as superior, because we assume it to be more authentic and sincere than the offering of prayers that have been written by another.  But this presupposes that prayer is, first and foremost, an expressive practice – a form of speech through which we pour out our self before God.  While it is certainly true that prayer has this expressive dimension, it is also a formative practice.  The prayers that we utter and hear on the lips of others are  shaping our understanding of God, his Church, ourselves, and the world around us.  The sincerity of a spontaneous prayer is important, but so is the depth and thoughtfulness of a written prayer – and no prayers have greater depth than the prayers of the Psalms.

This morning I was reading a bit of Henri Nouwen’s Genesee Diary, and came across these thoughts on how the recitation of Psalms during Compline brought him strength and comfort.  Commenting on Psalm 90, he writes:

Slowly these words enter into the center of my heart. They are more than ideas, images, comparisons: They become a real presence.  After a day with much work or with many tensions, you feel that you can let go in safety and realize how good it is to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

Nouwen Genesee DiaryMany times I have thought: If I am ever sent to prison, if I am ever subjected to hunger, pain, torture, or humiliation, I hope and pray that they let me keep the Psalms.  The Psalms will keep my spirit alive, the Psalms will allow me to comfort others, the psalms will prove the most powerful, yes, the most revolutionary weapon against the oppressor and torturer.  How happy are those who no longer need books but carry the Psalms in their heart wherever they are and wherever they go.   Maybe I should start learning the Psalms by heart so that nobody can take them away from me.  Just to be able to say over and over again:

O men, how long will your hearts be closed,
will you love what is futile and false?
It is the Lord who grants favors to those whom he loves;
the Lord hears me whenever I call him (Ps. 4)
 

That is a prayer that really can heal many wounds.

Like Nouwen, I hope that as I absorb the prayers of the Psalms on a daily basis, they will sink in to my bones, and lodge themselves in my heart, so that they provide me strength and nourishment during the trials that surely lie ahead.

08
Mar
12

How the Wesleys Describe the Goodness of God

If you had to choose a set of hymns or worship songs to describe the goodness of God, what would be at the top of your list?

I would initially think of something to do with creation, maybe dealing with how God provides good things for his creatures.   Maybe “Great is thy faithfulness.”   Possibly a setting of Psalm 23.  Or something about God’s love.

A few years ago I ordered a copy of A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists, from the Bicentennial Edition of Wesley’s Works.   It is an amazing piece of literature, and everyone who is interested in Wesleyan history and theology should spring for it.  The Wesleys put out numerous hymn collections throughout their lifetime, but this is the one that really stuck and became the standard of Wesleyan hymnody.

Near the start of the hymnal, there is a section of introductory hymns categorized as “Describing the Goodness of God”.  The first hymn in this section, no. 22, written by Samuel Wesley (father of Charles and John), reads as follows:

Behold the Savior of mankind
Nailed to the shameful tree!
How vast the love that Him inclined
To bleed and die for thee!

Hark, how He groans, while nature shakes,
And earth’s strong pillars bend;
The temple’s veil in sunder breaks,
The solid marbles rend.

“’Tis done!” The precious ransom’s paid,
“Receive My soul,” He cries!
See where He bows His sacred head!
He bows His head, and dies!

But soon He’ll break death’s envious chain,
And in full glory shine:
O Lamb of God! was ever pain,
Was ever love, like Thine?

It seems strange at first, because our inclination is to think that “describing the goodness of God” should mean dwelling on his eternal attributes, his care of creation, or his care of us amidst the trials of life.   But Wesley launches right into a description of the cross.

Hymn 23 begins with an even more concrete description of Calvary:

Extended on a cursed tree,
Besmeared with dust, and sweat, and blood,
See there, the King of glory see!
Sinks and expires the Son of God

In hymn 24 we find the opening lines, “Ye that pass by, behold the Man / The Man of griefs, condemned for you!” and in verse two: “See how his back the scourges tear / While to the bloody pillar bound!”

I was moved when I read through this section and realized what John Wesley had done in organizing the collection in this way.  All seventeen hymns in this section are focused on the cross and the atonement.  There’s not one that speaks in general terms of God’s goodness.  Wesley’s christocentrism is on full display in his ordering of these hymns.

How do we describe God’s goodness?  Rather than beginning with an abstract conception of a good God, and then theorizing about what that might mean, we begin at the cross, the climax and centre of God’s self-revelation.  We begin, strangely, with Jesus at his most human – suffering, bleeding, and dying for us and for our salvation – even though this is the point in the gospel narrative that most clearly underlines the inadequacies of our preconceived understandings of God and his goodness.

It is sad that many churches today shy away from a focus on the cross, even on Good Friday!   People seem concerned that it the crucifixion story is too gruesome, or too depressing.   One time I remember someone saying to me that we needed to end the Good Friday service on an “upbeat” note – as if we somehow need to “spin” the Good Friday story into a “positive” message.   The cross doesn’t need spin doctors.  It doesn’t need to be turned into something “positive,” and it doesn’t need to somehow be reconciled with a preconceived notion of “goodness.”  The cross is God’s demonstration of his goodness.  To describe the cross is to describe the goodness of God.  The story just needs to be told.

As we move through the remaining weeks of Lent, looking towards Good Friday, let’s not rush through our contemplation of the cross.

I give the last word to Charles. This is hymn 27 in the Collection.

O Love divine, what hast thou done!
The immortal God hath died for me!
The Father’s co-eternal Son
Bore all my sins upon the tree.
Th’immortal God for me hath died:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Is crucified for me and you,
To bring us rebels back to God.
Believe, believe the record true,
Ye all are bought with Jesus’ blood.
Pardon for all flows from His side:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Behold and love, ye that pass by,
The bleeding Prince of life and peace!
Come, sinners, see your Savior die,
And say, “Was ever grief like His?”
Come, feel with me His blood applied:
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

Then let us sit beneath His cross,
And gladly catch the healing stream:
All things for Him account but loss,
And give up all our hearts to Him:
Of nothing think or speak beside,
My Lord, my Love, is crucified!

[revised and re-blogged  from a post on March 31, 2010]

20
Oct
11

Book Review: The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister

Joan Chittister’s The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life is part of the Ancient Christian Practices series, published by Thomas Nelson.  Chittister, who has an excellent reputation as an author and speaker, is well qualified to write on this subject: as a Benedictine sister, she lives as part of a community whose life is profoundly shaped by the seasons of the traditional liturgical year.

The book is accessibly written, with 33 short chapters.  The first eight chapters cover introductory topics, while the rest of the book is shaped around the liturgical year itself, beginning with Advent and continuing through Orindary time, with a few other topics interspersed as she goes.

Chittister sets the liturgical year in the context of the life of discipleship.  Observing the Christian seasons is not simply a way to mark time, but it is a way to “attune the life of the Christian to the life of Jesus, the Christ” (6).  By allowing the liturgical year to bring the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Christ before us again and again, we learn what it means to follow Christ:

From the liturgy we learn both the faith and Scripture, both our ideals and our spiritual tradition.  The cycle of Christian mysteries is a wise teacher, clear model, and recurring and constant reminder of the Christ-life in our midst.  Simply by being itself over and over again, simply by putting before our eyes and filtering into our midst the living presence of Jesus who walked from Galilee to Jerusalem doing good, it teaches us to do the same (10).

This is possible because the liturgical year “immerses the Chrisitan in the life and death of Jesus from multiple perspectives” (27).  Worship, then, is not simply about us expressing our feelings to God, or about celebrating what God has done. Worship is also formative; it shapes us in our faith and our life with Christ.  I fully agree with Chittister on this point, that the liturgical year can and should be “a catechesis as well as a celebration, a spiritual adventure as well as a liturgical exercise.”

I do have some concerns with Chittister’s approach to the liturgical year, but before idenitfying some of them, I’ll say a bit more about the content of the book and its strengths.

Chittister notes that the liturgical year is not simply about the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and so on, but also includes Sunday observance, Ordinary Time, and (in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and some protestant traditions) the cycle of saints’ days.  She offers some good insights about the message of the different seasons – far too many to note in this short review.  But I since Advent is fast approaching I can give some examples from those chapters.

First of all, Chittister reminds us that, historically speaking, Advent was not the most important season of the liturgical year, and Christmas was not even celebrated until the 3rd century in Egypt, and even later in other regions (28).  While Christians today seem to place the greatest emphasis on Advent and Christmas, it was Easter which historically formed the centre of Christian liturgical observations.   She speaks of Advent as being about “three comings”: the birth of Jesus, the coming of Christ in our midst today, and the final return of Christ, and asks us to consider our own spiritual growth by asking ourselves which of the three we are waiting for (64-66).   She also covers the traditional themes of the four weeks of advent, before spending a chapter reflecting on the basic character of Advent as a season of joy.

There is a lot of wisdom to be gained from this book, particularly for those of us who are evangelicals and are not steeped in liturgical tradition.  I personally hope that many evangelical churches will embrace the liturgical calendar, at least to a greater extent than they do at present.  While the observance of the various saints’ days is not likely to fly outside of Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican circles, following the major seasons in the church year can provide a way to root the focus of our preaching and teaching more consistently in the narrative of God’s saving action in history through Jesus Christ.

My concern with Chittister’s approach relates to the theological presuppositions that she brings to the table.

First, as a matter of emphasis, she seems to lean very heavily on Christ’s role as an exemplar for us, without a strong enough emphasis on the cross and resurrection as Christ’s work on our behalf.   It’s not so much that she denies the latter, but I was sometimes bothered by what she was not saying.

For example, she says that  “Jesus embodied what the role of the cross was to be in the life of us all”  (15).  While I certainly believe that all Christians are called to take up their cross and participate in the cruciform life of Christ, I wouldn’t say that Jesus’ death was simply the embodiment of what we are all called to be.  Surely his death was more unique than that – the one, full and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world!

She continues in this vein,

It was, if anything, a sign to us of our own place in the scheme of things, in the order of the universe, in the economy of salvation. Now, it was clear, every capacity for good, every effort  of anyone, every breath of every human being had significance…Now it became obvious: if the life of Christ was to continue here on earth, it must continue in us.  Such an astonishingly piercing assessment of who Jesus really was and what that implies for those who call themselves Christian constituted a momentous breakthrough in the human awareness of the panoptic significance of the individual spiritual life (16).

It seems to me that Chittester is identifying Jesus as the greatest example of human spirituality – a person who inspires us to exercise our capacity for good.  Perhaps I’m being unfair, but as I read the book I was thinking that, for Chittister, it is not the particularity and uniqueness of Jesus, but the realization of a more fundamental category of human potential that she thinks is the most important thing.  In other words, it is not the saving work of Jesus Christ which is most fundamental, but the significance of the individual spiritual life, which is revealed in Jesus and enabled through our participation in him.

Another quote emphasizes this last point:

Finally, it is in coming to know the Jesus whose life was fine-tuned to the voice of God within him and whose death came out of unremitting commitment to the will of God, whatever the cost, that our own life is shaped and reshaped (41).

Here she frames the death of Christ as “unremitting commitment to the will of God” – a true statement, but one which is de-particularized in such a way that it becomes an example of that to which all human beings are called.  Rather than the once for all sacrifice in our place, Christ’s death becomes the greatest example of doing God’s will.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that it is wrong to say that Christ’s death is, in one sense, an example of what it means to do the will of God no matter the cost.  But I think that this emphasis can go astray if insufficient attention is given to the radical uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the sufficiency of his work on our behalf.  We are called to follow after Christ, but that is about us being conformed to Christ’s likeness, not Christ illustrating a general standard of what it means to follow God.  Rather than God incarnate, condescending to rescue humanity, Jesus becomes framed as the one who shows us “what it means to be a human on the way to God” (58).    In her own words, this perspective turns the story of the death and Resurrection of Jesus into “the call to recognize the resplendency of humanity” (47).   I see this as a skewing of the gospel narrative, turning it into the story of humanity’s ascent to God, rather than the story of God’s rescue of humanity.

Secondly, I felt that Chittister’s perspective was underwritten by a kind of mysticism.   By this I mean that she seemed to presuppose that God is already always within us, and that our ultimate destiny is absorption into God and even into creation.  She writes, near the beginning of the book:

The seasons and feasts, if we are open and alert to them, lead us deeper and deeper into the self, beyond the pull of the present, higher and higher into the One who beckons us on through time to that moment when we will dissolve into God, set free from time to become one with the universe (6-7).

I want to retain Luther’s insight that salvation is something that comes from without, not from within.  We do not have the resources within ourselves to find salvation.  We need the external Word to speak to us, and the Spirit to indwell us.  But even this indwelling does not mean that we are called to go “deeper and deeper into the self.”   Finally, becoming “one with the universe” does not seem to me to be a particularly Christian aspiration.

I hope I have not misinterpreted Chittister’s message, but I found these aspects of the book to be at odds with my own convictions.

This review is already getting too long, so I’ll stop there.  If you want to learn about the liturgical year, this book provides a short, readable introduction, and contains some interesting perspectives.  But I would urge the reader to be aware of some of the theological presuppositions that Chittister brings to the table.

Disclosure : I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

02
Jun
11

A Hymn for Ascension Day

One of my favourite Charles Wesley hymns is “Arise my Soul, Arise.”  Originally published in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1742, it was included as no. 194 in A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (1780).

The hymn emphasizes the assurance that comes from knowing that the sufficient once-for-all sacrifice of Christ is forever made effective through the ongoing high priestly work of the same ascended Lord, who intercedes on our behalf continually.   Assurance, therefore, comes not from an inner feeling or from self-examination but from the objective reality of Christ’s fully sufficient work on our behalf.  This assurance is communicated to us through the testimony of the Spirit, who assures us of our forgiveness and adoption specifically by witnessing to the very same saving work of Christ for us.

Scripturally, the hymn recalls several passages from Hebrews, notably 4:14-5:10, and chapter 10:1-25.

I grew up singing this to the tune “Darwall” (better known for “Rejoice the Lord is King), but online I’ve heard a number of other arrangements, including some new tunes.   You can find a nice one by Kevin Twit on the Indelible Grace hymn site, here.

1 Arise, my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears,
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears;
Before the throne my surety stands;
My name is written on his hands.
*
2 He ever lives above
For me to intercede,
His all-redeeming love,
His precious blood to plead;
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.
*
3 Five bleeding wounds he bears,
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers,
They strongly speak for me;
Forgive him, O forgive, they cry,
Nor let that ransomed sinner die!
*
4 The Father hears him pray,
His dear anointed one,
He cannot turn away

The presence of his Son:
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me, I am born of God.
*
5 My God is reconciled,
His pard’ning voice I hear,
He owns me for his child,
I can no longer fear;
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And Father, Abba Father, cry!
16
Dec
10

A Forgotten Christmas Hymn, by Charles Wesley

I found this wonderful hymn a couple of years ago, when looking through A Collection of Hymns for the Nativity of our Lord, compiled by John Wesley in 1744.  There are some interesting gems in there, but the following hymn, by brother Charles (#11 in the collection) really stood out.

My favourite phrase is “In our deepest darkness rise” – and I love the title given to Christ in verse three: “Thou mild Pacific Prince.”  I wrote a tune for this last year, and I hope to be able to record it some time down the road.

LIGHT OF THOSE WHOSE DREARY DWELLING

Charles Wesley

Light of those whose dreary dwelling,
Borders on the shades of death,
Come, and by Thy love’s revealing,
Dissipate the clouds beneath :
š›š›The new heaven and earth’s Creator,
In our deepest darkness rise,
Scattering all the night of nature,
Pouring eyesight on our eyes.
~
Still we wait for Thy appearing,
Life and joy Thy beams impart,
Chasing all our fears, and cheering,
Every poor benighted heart:
Come and manifest the favour,
God hath for our ransom’d race;
Come, Thou universal Saviour,
Come, and bring the gospel grace.
~
Save us in Thy great compassion,
O Thou mild pacific Prince,
Give the knowledge of salvation,
Give the pardon of our sins ;
By Thine all-restoring merit,
Every burden’d soul release,
Every weary, wandering spirit,
Guide into Thy perfect peace.
05
Nov
10

“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” as Quaker Polemic

Though I’m sure I’ve heard it before, this hymn was brought to my attention when I watched the movie Atonement.   There is an amazing 5 minute scene (all shot in one take on one camera) in which lead character Robbie is wandering on a beach in Dunkirk, waiting to be evacuated to England.  The beach is in complete chaos, with thousands of soldiers hanging around, seemingly without any organization – fighting, drinking, trashing vehicles, and waiting helplessly.  In the midst of the chaos, however, a choir of soldiers stands in a bandstand, singing this hymn of clamness, stillness, and rest.

The hymn is taken from a longer poem called “The Brewing of Soma,” written in 1872 by Quaker poet John Greeleaf Whittier.  In context, it is actually a strong Quaker critique of more traditional forms of Christian spirituality.  Whittier begins by depicting a scene from Vedic religion, in which priests concoct a drink, called “Soma,” which is then used in an attempt to come into contact with the divine.  In those times, “All men to Soma prayed,” Whittier writes, but his eye is on more recent Christian worship practices, which he believes are no better.  “And still with wondering eyes we trace / The simple prayers to Soma’s grace, / That Vedic verse embalms.”

Clearly Whittier has the Christian sacraments, hymns, and liturgical prayer in mind.  As the poem continues he writes,

As in that child-world’s early year,
Each after age has striven
By music, incense, vigils drear,
And trance, to bring the skies more near,
Or lift men up to heaven!

All religious ceremony is, in his mind, a vain Babel-like attempt to reach the heavens by human effort.

The final six verses of Whittier’s poem are the ones we have come to know as “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.”  The seventh to the last verse is the climax of his critique:

And yet the past comes round again,
And new doth old fulfil;
In sensual transports wild as vain
We brew in many a Christian fane
The heathen Soma still!

It’s amazing that we have taken this polemic against historic forms of Christian worship and turned it into a standard hymn, particularly popular in Anglican circles!   When you keep Whittier’s Quaker faith and the rest of the poem in mind, you can still catch the traces of polemic in the verses we know and sing:

  • The “simple trust” in unmediated grace (v. 2)
  • the idea of rising up “without a word” (v. 2)
  • the “Sabbath rest” depicted as the “silence of eternity” (v. 3)
  • the “noiseless” blessing of God falling on the worshippers (v. 4)
  • the “still dews of quietness” which cause “all our strivings” to cease (v. 5)
  • and finally, the dumbing of the senses in the presence of the “still small voice” (v. 6)

Reading it from this perspective, these verses clearly reflect Quaker theology and practice in a very distinctive way.

Should non-Quakers still sing this song, since we don’t ascribe to their beliefs about worship?   I would say so.  Though it is good to recognize the Quaker aspects of the hymn, poetry does not have one fixed meaning.  Even anglo-catholics might be able to interpret this hymn in  a way that fits with their approach to worship, particularly since most of the imagery in the hymn is thoroughly biblical.   All Christians can affirm the restfulness of being in God’s presence, the place that quietness ought to occupy in worship, and the way that God’s blessing comes to us in spite of our strivings – without taking these convictions in the direction of Quaker theology.

And to be honest, most people are probably so enraptured by the amazing tune, Repton, that they wouldn’t notice the distinctive Quaker aspects of the hymn!

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.




Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter Updates

My book