We live in times of crime and violence, aka – We live in sharp infested waters

We live in times of crime and violence
where guns and knives would seem to rule;
incarceration offers respite,
is prison now the only school?

We learn so slowly in this era,
how we should nurture love and care.
For still we model cold derision,
with disrespect, derisive stare.

Our politicians rage and stumble,
as racists bawl across the street,
then disagreements twist and tangle,
with language coarse and indiscreet.

God give us grace and apt discretion,
the skill of choosing words that skirt
around each tempting confrontation,
give words that calm instead of hurt.

Words (including alternatives below) © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Tune: ST CLEMENT (Scholefield)
Metre 9.8.9.8

The original first verse of this text is as follows and can be used if wished:

We live in sharp infested waters,
the law of Cain would seem to rule,
incarceration offers respite,
is prison now the only school?

In the second stanza, first line ‘era’ can be replaced with ‘country’.

At a time when knife and gun crime are rife this text may be seen to be pertinent either as a poem or a hymn.

Wrapped up in the silk that shines silver in moonlight – response to ‘All things bright and beautiful’

Wrapped up in the silk that shines silver in moonlight,
the cycle of life will go on day by day.
The spider devours what is needed by nature;
for life to exist death must also hold sway.

The cancer that kills through an act of mutation,
the building of love, the destruction and strife;
the things labelled ‘evil’ are part of creation,
the earth’s moving surface is needful for life.

Our eyes are half open to vast constellations,
are blind to the particles light can’t resolve,
but in them and through them the mystery beyond us:
the one we name ‘God’ makes our wisdom dissolve;

for on through our living and final destruction,
beyond deep imagining, artists might hold,
this ‘God’, this enigma, the source of our being
will love through eternity, comfort, enfold.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2015 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
12 11 12 11
Suggested tune: STREETS OF LAREDO

At a Hymn Society Conference some years ago I was asked for a hymn in response to ‘All things bright and beautiful’ which took ‘bad’ things seriously, things like cancer. This exploration of creation of ‘bad things’, technically theodicy, followed.

Published in  More than hymns

Whatever your race, your colour or creed you are a sister or brother to me…

Whatever your race, your colour or creed
you are a sister or brother to me.
You speak with a language I don’t understand
but I want to learn what you mean.
1 So much we could share if you listen to me,
so much if I listen to you.
Wherever you’re from, and whatever your need,
however you name God, whatever you plead,
your culture is foreign, unusual to me
but both of us want to be free.
Refrain

2 So much we could share if you listen to me,
so much if I listen to you.
When tragedy strikes and our lives spin around,
while babies are crying and battle resounds
I know you still love me, and I still love you,
I’ll help with what you need to do.
Refrain

3 So much we could share if you listen to me,
so much if I listen to you.
So let’s join together, the table is set,
the laughter and pleasure will help us forget
the fear at the difference that keeps us apart.
In loving we’ll make a new start.
Refrain

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© 2003 Stainer & Bell Ltd 11 8 11 11 11 8 and Refrain 10 10 11 8
Tune by Alex Jarrett with words at No.117 in Reclaiming Praise

Our borders, our walls mock the faith that we own -Hymn/Poem

Our borders, our walls mock the faith that we own,
denying the Christ that we claim to enthrone,
for Christ is our neigbour to love or reject,
for us to disdain, or to treat with respect.

The justice of God is as real as our flesh,
as real as each life that we drown or refresh;
as active as righteousness seen in the cross,
where love met with hatred while bearing the loss.

And now, in this moment, we need to decide,
our crisis of conscience to love or deride:
to claim that some small print lets us off the hook,
or answer, with courage, Christ’s challenging look?

Andrew Pratt 14/7/2019
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Tune: ST DEINIO

O God, let intellect be held – God and the mystery of love

O God, let intellect be held
constrained, that I might simply sense
the depth, and mystery, of love
within this present tense.

As music sets the air aflame,
as sense is dumb and flesh retires
God, reach within my heart again
and fan those hidden fires.

As hands reach out to grasp the grace
that bread and wine should mediate,
reach back through hands that you would choose:
disclose, communicate.

Then held at once in paradox,
remembering in present time,
unite again this human flesh
with sacred love divine.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© 2003 Stainer & Bell Ltd
8 8 8 6

 

A feather of grace (also posted as a poem)

‘A feather of grace’ appears elsewhere as a poem on this site. It was written the day after I had a defibrillator implant. As a hymn it is, perhaps a bit dense. John Kleinheksel had asked for clarification. He also penned a tune. I hope to include the tune at a later stage, but here is the clarification –

Note: Grace is unwarranted, unexpected yet universal. For something so important one would expect it to be protected, invincible. Yet the medium of announcement is vulnerable and fragile.
The fact of grace, that we are all accepted as we are without condition is unfathomable, cuts across expectation and logic. To explain it we construct models and metaphors out of human experience. There must be a ransom paid. There is none. Just a birth in a foul stable and a death on a sordid cross.
The way of signalling this drama is through the kiss of a man who subsequently kills himself. His act sets the play in motion. Who would trust something so momentous to such a person?
Choice and decision is placed before Pilate. He wants nothing of it. Natural justice points in one direction. His inaction as much as a negative action seals the injustice that is unfolding.
At the end love incarnate hangs bleeding, in human terms, destroyed, eradicated.
The girder of God’s grace is as frail as a feather, yet achieves total human freedom. The balance could have been so much better weighted. But the feather is God’s way. We are rarely, if ever, going to risk it. It is not expedient. It will not work. We do not understand it. But faith’s feather says this is the way.

A feather of grace that puts love in the balance,
no ransom, but freedom, the smallest of gifts.
The healing of people, redemption of nations,
a singular action sealed once with a kiss.

An act of betrayal, a voice at the crossroads,
a choice of direction: to love or destroy.
Significant action, divine contradiction,
judicious inaction, was their’s to deploy.

Then Christ was abandoned, his Judas hung dying,
while Pilate is washing his hands in disgust,
for power is corrupting through pride or indifference,
while love will lie bleeding, let down in distrust.

Andrew Pratt 13/6/2019
Tunes: NAVASINK (Kleinheksel)
Clink link to see: A.Feather.of.Grace.12.11.12.11.NAVASINK;
ST CATHERINE’S COURT

Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

After a quote drawn to my attention by John Kleinheksel –
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/04/the-last-temptation/554066/ accessed 31/7/2019
Michael Gerson beautifully describes at the end of his article,
At its best, faith is the overflow of gratitude, the attempt to live as if we are loved, the fragile hope for something better on the other side of pain and death. And this feather of grace weighs more in the balance than any political gain.

 

This broken world, your broken church – Written in the Worship Live writing weekend at Launde Abbey, June 2019 and sung on 9th June.

This broken world, your broken church,
scattered like dust upon the breeze:
God take your people, make us whole,
fire with your Spirit, bring release,
renew, restore our common bond,
until all humankind respond.

Fire of your love inflame each life,
inspire each heart upon this earth,
until all people can affirm
each person’s value, gift and worth.
Build us as one, together bound,
rooted in grace, in common ground.

Spirit of life flow on, flow free,
till we have peace within this place;
till we can look and see the Christ
in every sad or smiling face.
Forgive our inhumanity,
yet God, by grace begin with me.

© Andrew Pratt 8/6/2019 Written in the Worship Live writing weekend at Launde Abbey, June 2019 and sung on 9th June.
Tune: ABINGDON
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Launde for blog