Cedars of Lebanon – hope for Beirut, and the world in a TIME of COVID-19

Fred Kaan, (1929–2009) a prolific hymn writer and ecumenist once compiled a book of hymns entitled Planting Seeds and Growing Trees. It was based on the Biblical image that that those who risk planting seeds are planting hope for the future in bleak situations.    A key text began:

Were the world to end tomorrow,
would we plant a tree today?
Would we till the soil of loving,
kneel to work and rise to pray?                                                                                                    Fred Kaan (1929-2009)  © 1989 Stainer & Bell Ltd

In the current situation of COVID-19 and the devastating explosion in Beirut (4th August 2020) the following hymn, written for a tree planting, came to mind:

Cedars of Lebanon, oaks of old England,*
elegant poplars along country roads,
trees mark a heritage, hope for the future,
holding our history and bearing our loads.

So at each planting we mark a beginning,
partners with God at this moment in time,
turning the earth with renewed expectation
placing a marker and planting a sign.

Each tree puts value on present and future,
points to this moment of God given grace,
rings out the years through to new generations,
living and worshipping near to this place.

So God we offer our plans for your blessing,
grounded in all you have given and held,
nurture each tree and our lives through our living,
till life’s completion, till all trees are felled;

till we have found in our end our beginning,
purpose of life in the days that you send.
God give us strength for the tasks here before us,
God of our present and God without end.
Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) © 2011 Stainer and Bell Ltd. (*Alt by author)

Might we go on planting seeds and growing trees, planting faith, growing hope.

 

Here we will meet to praise – as congregations gather again in whatever way in COVID-19

Here we will meet to praise, with hesitation,
while conscious of our frailty and fear.
Here we will meet for prayer and meditation,
God, Spirit, ever-present, come, draw near.

Here we will raise our eyes to things above us,
while needy people break our sense of peace.
We recognise, O God, that you still love us,
but also those who clamour for release.

Here we will meet in unity of purpose,
enable us to find you in our hearts,
that we might be alive, not just a carcass,
a living, thriving body where love starts.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2014 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.
Metre: 11 10 11 10
Tunes: HIGHWOOD; O PERFECT LOVE
As published on worship Cloud (www.worshipcloud.com)

Covid-19 hymn of Lament – Through every fighting moment and each breath

Through every fighting moment and each breath,
another burdened person nearer death;
and now we sing our prayer that life might last,
this time might be consigned, be something past.

Great God, we cling to hope when all seems lost,
we never thought that love would hold such cost;
and now our loving feels more like a shroud
to wrap the one we we love: we cry out loud!

How long, O God, must suffering prolong
this tension, is lament so very wrong?
Or is our understanding of your care
corrupt, or incomplete, bereft or bare?

Amid our swirling agony and doubt,
God hold us till the sands of time run out;
when light has gone, and darkness hovers round,
we wait the dawning of Love’s solid ground.

Written on 26th May after watching Clive Myrie (BBC reporter) in a ward with people dying of COVID-19.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/health-52809201/coronavirus-one-week-in-one-hospital

Words © 2020 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.
Tunes: PEEL CASTLE (Manx Fisherman’s Hymn); EVENTIDE (Abide with me)

Life now with Covid-19 – We cannot see the future (hymn/poem)

We cannot see the future,
nor live as in the past,
our time the present moment,
yet know this will not last.
But can a human construct
give answers or make sense
as everyone will struggle
with this, the present tense?

Our understanding staggers,
but what can history prove?
What scripture has a message
to help us rest or move?
The wilderness was testing
a place to learn and think,
a sudden unthought action
might push us to the brink.

So in this present moment
the greatest gift is time,
a time of recollection
before life’s upward climb.
And can our faith sustain us?
Or simple human love?
While waiting in the valley
we lift our eyes above.

The heavens will not answer,
but through each silent night
the stars might make us wonder
at their insistent light.
We live within an instant,
as finite as our breath,
suspended in a moment
between our life and death.

What matters in this moment
is how we love and live,
is how we treat each other,
of how we share and give;
to speculate is pointless,
this is the earth we know,
this edifice of living:
what will OUR loving show?

Andrew Pratt 5/5/2020
Words © 2020 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.
Tunes: THORNBURY; CRUGER

Now is the coda of our time – hymn, lyrical poem when confronting death

Now is the coda of our time
with those we value most on earth,
may we fulfil our finite role
and love confirm our deepest worth.

This chorus that we joined at birth:
life’s gentle, joyful, solemn song,
expresses all that life contains
of gifted good to chosen wrong.

Then, as we sense that life will end,
the closing bars should speak of joy,
uplifted by our faith and hope
let us enhance, and not destroy.

So let the melody go on,
until we grasp our final breath,
as healing interweaves such love:
God’s counterpoint to human death.

Andrew Pratt 5/5/2020
Words © 2020 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: ABENDS