Pentecost resources – hymns, song, poem, monologue, reflection, drama

The following items are all written by Marjorie Dobson or Andrew Pratt.
More of Marjorie Dobson's writing can be found at Stainer & Bell Ltd - Marjorie Dobson
More of Andrew Pratt's writing can be found at Stainer & Bell Ltd - Andrew Pratt

Hymn: It was a new beginning on the day the Spirit came

It was a new beginning on the day the Spirit came.
The house was filled with roaring wind and heads were touched by flame.
Their lips were blessed with languages that all could understand 
and Peter led the charge into this new uncharted land.

It was a revelation when the doors were opened wide 
and all could see what happened to the ones who were inside.
“These men are plainly very drunk, at only nine-o-clock.
It’s surely very clear they’ve had a monumental shock.”

It was a new translation when the Spirit led their speech 
and Peter stood in front of them and then began to preach.
The people were amazed because they understood each word 
and, what is more, they acted on the message that they heard.

It was a new beginning, but the story carries on, 
as people still find inspiration, though the years have gone.
For Pentecost is permanent, the Spirit still holds sway 
and helps us to translate God’s word and challenge for today.

Marjorie Dobson	
© 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.
Metre: 14 14 14 14
Tune: THE LINCOLNSHIRE POACHER

Poem: Common language

Confusion – 
as the Babel-babble of languages 
ripped apart a proud people
and scattered them in misunderstanding.

Resolution – 
as a Spirit-filled language 
swept swiftly through a listening crowd 
and united them in understanding and community.

Same God.
Same Spirit.
But now in longed-for reconciliation, 
as the word of death defeated by the love of God 
was spoken with Pentecostal power.

©Marjorie Dobson

Hymn/Poem: Simultaneous translation

Simultaneous translation, 
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, 
all the world, it seemed, was listening, 
here the Spirit cheers, unites. 
	
Awe and wonder stunned the people, 
something new had come to birth, 
now the Holy Spirit, flaming, 
spread God's grace across the earth.
	
Faith's foundations shudder, quaking, 
preconceptions shift and shake, 
people share anticipation,
joy has come and love will wake!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© Words © 2012 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: 8 7 8 7
Tune: DRAKES BROUGHTON; SHIPSTON

Inspiration: I hate balloons!

I hate balloons!
Ever since that day
one horrid child
burst one behind me
at a party, 
when I was only four,
or thereabouts -
I’ve hated balloons.

And yet ……

a street-seller
captivates children –
and me –
by making shapes and animals,
as he breathes life
into long, thin balloons
and curves and twists them
in his hands.
Then, suddenly, a dog!
And a delighted child
sees, not breath encased,
only a new friend
to carry home with glee.

Empty,
balloons are nothing.
Air-filled,
they live.

Come Holy Spirit,
pour new life into me,
that I may fill
and change
and live and grow,
transformed 
by the very breath of God.

Marjorie Dobson
© Words © 2004 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.

Song: Lithe spirit you're bounding and leaping

Lithe spirit you're bounding and leaping,
stars shimmer and flash from your heels,
until the whole world burns with pardon and praise,
until the lost know how love feels.

O harlequin dazzle by dancing,
let joy spring like sparks from a flame,
until every person consumed by your love
comes blithely to join in your game.

Come juggler, spinning and turning
our chances and dreams like a top,
until all our values are turned upside down
whirl on through the world, never stop.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© Words © 2002 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: 9 8 11 8
Tune: LITHE SPIRIT – from Reclaiming Praise & Whatever Name or Creed (https://stainer.co.uk/composer/andrew-pratt/ )
This can be heard with different words at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTFG7EXQQNM 

Drama: Pentecost People – Acts 2: 1-21
(Could be used as a substitute for a sermon, or in an interactive service, or in a discussion group. The characters could lead into topics for discussion or conversation.)

Reader - Acts 2: 1-21

Narrator: Can you imagine what it must have been like on that day? It must have been sunny – and very hot. What would you have been doing if you were in that crowd? They were mostly Jews from all over the world and this was a religious festival for them.
Maybe imagining how you would have felt then is not easy. For that reason, each of the following characters has brought the story into their own time – our time, maybe?

Maybe this was your regular visit to Jerusalem and you wouldn’t want to miss it? 

Regular attender: Do you know I’ve never missed a Sunday at church for the last forty years – apart from holidays and illness, of course. It’s just a part of my way of life. Every Sunday, get up, get dressed in my best, and off I go. I meet my friends, we have a gossip and coffee after the service and it’s all very pleasant and starts the week off on the right note. The service is OK, so long as the hymns are right and you don’t have to listen to the sermon if you don’t want to. I’ve heard it all before anyway. But these extra visitors are not like us regulars.

Narrator: Maybe you’re local. You live here and have to put up with the visitors. 

Local worshipper: I’m not really comfortable when we get too many visitors crowding our church out - like at Christmas, or Harvest Festival – but I reckon they’re not really serious about the service, so I don’t pay them much attention as long as I can be first in the queue for coffee. I’m not sure why these people come, even if it is a special occasion. We’re not a very adventurous kind of church. We know our own ways and like them and nothing exciting is ever likely to happen round here, so we just carry on as usual and they can make of it what they will.

Narrator: Maybe you’ve travelled a long way – you’re a Jew, but this isn’t even your country. 

Stranger from another place: I’m not from round here. My country is very different to this. So I came here to look for safety and security, but it’s not always easy being here. I hoped the church would offer me some kind of refuge, that’s why I came at this special time. I believe in God, so I should be as much a part of this company as anyone else. I struggle with the language sometimes and some people don’t seem very comfortable because I’m here, but I hope that God will speak to me wherever I am, even if the language is different.

Narrator: Maybe you think all this is a rip-off. People making money.

Cynic: I reckon there’s something fishy going on here. You come to church only because you’ve had your arm twisted up your back by the girl friend to be here for this celebration thing and then it’s just like any other big crowd anywhere. There’s always somebody making a noise, or acting funny, or talking about strange things happening at the front that you can’t see or understand. There are rumours that something’s going to happen and then nothing seems to – not that I can see anyway! I wonder who’s making money out of this and is all this talking and singing just a way of getting you in the mood to hand over even more money

Narrator: Maybe you feel others should recognize that it is a privilege for them to be here with you? 

VIP: It’s really difficult for me when there are all these strangers milling about. Some of them even try to talk to me. But do they know who I am? I have been a pillar of this church and taken on every office I possibly could and given loyal service to this building over many years now. My name has even gone down in its local history and when I speak in a meeting, most people take note of what I’m saying. But it’s so difficult to command respect in a crowd that doesn’t know you. They only come on these special occasions, so I think I should just keep my distance and maybe some of them may recognize that I’m a person of some importance and a force to be reckoned with.

Narrator: Maybe you are panicking because you feel out of control?

The anxious one: I don’t like crowds. I have never liked crowds. I get panicky and afraid because you never know what might happen. That’s why I keep myself to myself – even in church. I don’t want anyone to know how I feel, so I hide it. And who would be interested in my worries and anxieties anyway? I do try to pray about them sometimes, but I’m not even sure that God would want to listen to someone as insignificant as me. So I just keep quiet and hope that I can get away by myself as soon as possible. But it’s so difficult in this crowd. And I’m so easily frightened.

Narrator: The city is hot and noisy and dusty and sweaty and you’re lost and simply moving with the crowd. 

The lost one: I have no idea of how I got here, or why I should be here. I never do have much idea of who I am or where I’m going. I just keep looking for something new, or interesting and seeing where it leads me. Most times, that means nowhere. I don’t suppose this day is going to be any different. I’m sure there must be lots of people who have definite ideas of where they’re going in life and I sometimes envy them. But, for the moment I’ll just drift along following the next craze and not really caring very much about anything. These people seem to be finding something interesting. I suppose I might as well go along with them. For now.

Narrator: Then they come to a standstill outside one particular house. You hear the rumours about the strange people in it. You wait because you’re curious – or simply because you can’t move anywhere else.

Then, suddenly –

Cynic: What did I tell you, Drunk as lords, they are!

The anxious one: Somebody said there was fire somewhere. I’ve got to get out of this!

VIP: Oh dear, what a dreadful noise. This isn’t the sort of behaviour you expect from church people. And they tell me he is a common fisherman!

Local worshipper: They can’t do that kind of thing round here. It’ll give the neighbourhood a bad name!

Regular attender: That man seems to be preaching a very long sermon. I do hope that kind of behaviour won’t catch on!

Stranger from another place: Why are they talking like that? Hey, I can understand that! What does this mean?

The lost one: What that man’s saying really makes me think. Maybe I ought to start taking things seriously. He’s down to earth, but he’s certainly a powerful speaker. This could be the start of a whole new life!

Narrator: All those strange events and Peter filled with a new Spirit of power – surely that was bound to have a tremendous impact on the people there.

It certainly did!

For one thing, three thousand people were added to the church on that day, as they responded to the message that Peter was giving. 

Why? 
Because it was powerful and they could understand it, as it was being explained in their own language.

Is there some lesson in this for us – HERE and NOW?

©Marjorie Dobson

Hymn: Wind of the Spirit, move us on

Wind of the Spirit, move us on,
drive us before your force.
We need that power to strengthen us
of which you are the source.
Blow off the cobwebs of the past
and set us on your course:
O come Holy Spirit, move us on, move us on.
O come Holy Spirit, move us on.

Fire of the Spirit, burn in us,
surround us with your light.
Destroy our sense of apathy,
give us the will to fight.
That with our hearts on fire for Christ
we set the world alight:
Chorus

Voice of the Spirit speak to us,
give us your words to say.
Inspire the language of your love,
help us to preach and pray.
That all may hear of saving grace
translated for their day:
Chorus

Christ, let your Spirit sweep through us,
your serving church renew.
Give us new hope and confidence
in all the work we do.
That those who seek for faith today
may find their way to you:
Chorus

Marjorie Dobson
© Words © 2004 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 : 8.6.8.6.8.6. & Refrain           
Tune: GOD REST YOU MERRY.

Monologue: Three thousand – plus one!

He certainly got through to me, that Peter bloke. I’ve never heard anyone be so forceful and so sincere in what he was saying. It was amazing.
I don’t know where he got the courage from. After all, he’d been hiding away with the others for weeks and I don’t blame them. They knew the authorities were out to get them if they showed their faces and tried to stir up trouble. The Romans and the religious leaders thought they’d settled their problems by killing Jesus, but they certainly knew that they had to keep his followers under control, or everything would flare up again.
So when things seemed to be happening in the hideout, it wasn’t long before a crowd gathered and I was determined to get as good a view as I could.
Everybody thought they were drunk when they spilled out of the door. The general opinion was that they’d been drowning their sorrows while they’d been locked away, but now the drink had given them enough courage to get outside again.
Then Peter started and we couldn’t believe what he was saying, or his confidence in saying it. By the time he’d finished, he’d totally convinced us that it was our fault that we hadn’t recognized Jesus as the Messiah and so we were the ones who’d crucified him. We’d rejected the very person we’d been expecting for hundreds of years and God wasn’t best pleased with us.
All around me people were crying out and asking what they could do to make things right again. As if we could? How could anything change the situation? He was dead and gone and according to Peter, he’d already been taken back to heaven. What difference could we make to that?
But he had an answer for that too. If we were really sorry for our mistake and were prepared to be baptised into the name of Christ, as a sign of our repentance, then God would honour that act and be a part of our lives for ever.
It reminded me of those days at the Jordan river, many years ago, when that odd, hairy prophet, John was pushing people under the water as a sign of repentance. I didn’t fall for that one then and I wasn’t going to be caught out by this Peter either.
All over the place people were falling on their knees amd begging God for forgiveness. I found it really difficult to get out of the crowd; pushing my way through distraught and supposedly repentant people. But I had to get away. I was in danger of being dragged into all this emotion and I didn’t like the idea. So I escaped down a side street and ran home. A little later one of my sons came back  and told me that apparently three thousand people had been baptised into this new group. It was unbelievable.
I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I spent the night pacing up and down, talking to myself and trying not to talk to God. Because I knew, deep in my heart, that Peter was right and I was wrong. And,until I admitted that, I would have to keep God at a distance. So, as day dawned, I knew I had to do something about it.
That’s why I’m off now to become number three thousand and one!

©Marjorie Dobson

Hymn: A commonwealth of love 

A commonwealth of love 
where all are held by grace, 
it seems idyllic on the page, 
could it infect this place?
Within that upper room
were people just like us, 
but meeting Christ in faith and love 
transformed their depth of trust.
	
And when we meet with God 
we cannot but be changed,
for God confronts our doubt and fear
as lives are rearranged.
This day the change begins, 
the vision is fulfilled, 
and life will never be the same 
where love can be distilled.
	
So let us grasp this hope
that set the world alight,
that love can never be destroyed 
and fear is put to flight.
A commonwealth of love:
let's risk a seed of grace
to bring this vision into life
within this time and place.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
© Words © 2012 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: DSM
Tune: FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH


INVESTING IN A MONOLITH – a hymn of an alternative future – BEYOND COVID-19 – A DREAM?

1	Investing in a monolith
	that reaches to the sky
	can blind us to our neighbour’s loss,
	we’re deaf to hear their cry.
	The infrastructure that we crave,
	carves scars across the land,
	where food and beauty once was found,
	but can no longer stand.

2	The monuments we build to power
	that sap a nation’s wealth,
	will crumble as they leech the poor,
	yet wreck our moral health.
	When will we learn a quiet way,
	not strident in its speech,
	of love for neighbour, knowing peace
	is not beyond our reach?

3	When will we till this common ground
	we share through human birth,
	that all its riches, love and joy,
	may show our common worth;
	each one a child, a neighbour, friend,
	a partner in this life?
	Then let us share in Christ-like love,
	and harbour no more strife.

Andrew Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2018 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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:CMD
Tune: ELLACOMBE

Change us, God, into the likeness (hymn) – for times of debate and decision


Change us, God, into the likeness
of yourself, through perfect grace;
let your loving faith unite us,
till in each we see your face.

If you are our common parent
in whose image we are made,
then our varied traits, our being,
in your person are displayed.

In your presence all are welcome,
welcome, just as we are formed,
and where prejudice divides us
let our vision be reformed.

In the tension of deciding
may your gracious spirit lend
openness and understanding,
help our enmity to end.

Andrew Pratt 24/4/2021 Written in response to the Chester & Stoke on Trent Methodist Synod discussion on the report ‘God in Love Unites Us’.
Words © 2021 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: 8.7.8.7
Tune: CHAPEL BRAE (Singing the Faith 610); LOVE DIVINE (Stainer)

Easter Day

Easter

Rainbow Cross

Suffocating night 
smothering, 
obliterating
the broken bloody body 
hammered hard, 
staining scarlet 
that cross 
of rough-cut wood

and thunder crashed 
the doom of death.

Then darkness fractured, 
light splintered, 
fragments of colour 
shot out into the brilliance 
of a multi-coloured Easter morning 
in a green garden.

And an empty cross 
rainbow-wrapped, 
images the promise 
of the death-defying dawn 
of new hope.

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Quite early one morning © Andrew Pratt

A strange new day 

This is the day 
when perfume remained unopened, 
spices were no longer needed, 
cloths and sponges were unused.

This is the day 
when stone was no barrier, 
soldiers abandoned guard duty, 
grave clothes and tomb were empty. 

This is the day 
when the unexpected became reality, 
a man asked awkward questions, 
uttered unlikely proclamations.

This is the day 
when bewilderment ruled, 
fear was ever-present, 
obedience the only option.

This is the day
when women left hurriedly,
uncertain and warily,
to tell a strange story 
to an unbelieving audience, 

For they did not know it,
but this is the day 
when everything changed:
death was defeated, 
new life was beginning, 
hope overwhelming despair.

This is the day 
of resurrection.

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Come in the morning

Come in the morning.
Come see the dawning.
Come to the garden –
life has broken through.

Jesus, dead and buried. 
To his grave they hurried. 
Anxious women found that 
life had broken through.
Chorus

Soldiers could not keep him 
for they were found sleepiing 
and the tomb was open – 
life had broken through.
Chorus

Peter, unbelieving, 
left, still full of grieving. 
Nothing would convince him 
life had broken through.
Chorus

Mary, greatly shaken, 
thought he had been taken.
Heard his voice that told her 
life had broken through.
Chorus

Where there was despairing, 
grief and horror sharing, 
now there is a rumour 
life has broken through.
Chorus

So God’s word is spoken, 
when our hearts are broken 
there will come a time when 
new life will break through.
Chorus

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.
Metre: 6 6 6 5 and chorus 5 5 5 5 
Tune: Dance to thi’ Daddy (When the boat comes in)

Mary Magdalene

My name is Mary,
common enough in my time 
to need to be identified by place, or family.
Mine is such a name.
They call me the Magdalene.

People call me other names.
Some claim I was a prostitute, 
perhaps because the town whose name I bear 
is famous for that trade.

Others question my sanity 
and ask why it was necessary for that exorcism 
of troubling devils to be performed.
They probably call me mad.

The other followers, male, of course, 
know me as ‘one of the women’, 
useful for everyday tasks, but mainly disregarded.

So on that day -
when all hope had drained after his execution, 
the future seemed bleak and empty
and even the tomb appeared to have been raided 
and his body stolen – 
it was hardly surprising that the men ignored me,
ran back to the city and left me to weep alone.

The voice was kind and questioning 
and I sobbed my story, not expecting help.
But it came, in one word.
 ‘Mary,’ 
from one who spoke my name as if it mattered.

My name is Mary.
His name was and is and always will be, 
Jesus.

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.

Safe, locked inside that upper room 

Safe, locked inside that upper room, 
too scared to let the truth be known, 
disciples had to see their Lord 
before that truth could be their own.

And Thomas, still so full of doubt, 
would not believe the tales they told 
till Christ appeared, to show his wounds -
then his conviction made him bold.

Yet doubts and fears returned again.
Once more they locked themselves away 
until the Holy Spirit came 
on that inspiring, vital day.

The truth is now a living fact.
The love of God can never die.
So bold apostles stood their ground – 
their living Lord is not a lie.

We have not seen, but we believe 
and we must witness by our faith 
to living truth we have received, 
awakened by the Spirit’s breath.

Marjorie Dobson © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
From Unravelling the Mysteries, Stainer & Bell Ltd., 2019.
Metre: LM  
Tune: NIAGARA 

Poem: When what we thought was mystery

When what we thought was mystery
is rooted in the common place,
and God is found in those who love,
and those we love by grace;
then we have grasped the Christmas story,
reached its heart, beheld its glory.
	
When scourge and cross are recognised
in images from round the earth.
When we admit complicity
and gauge compassions' dearth;
then we have grasped the Easter story,
reached its heart, and felt its glory.
	
When love and justice magnify
and even mercy has no end;
when hostages find liberty
and enemies are friends;
then we have grasped the Spirit's story,
reached its heart, expressed its glory.

Andrew Pratt © 2004 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.

Easter Eve – Saturday – Vigil

Easter Eve – Saturday
Grey skies like molten lead… © Andrew Pratt
Infinite disappointment? 

Infinite disappointment 
for only rain comes 
from grey skies 
like molten lead. 
And it seems 
that hope is dead 
until that metal, 
soft, 
is knife-cut 
and a sheen shines out, 
like light 
slant through cloud 
making it seem 
that hope might 
just 
be 
possible…

© Andrew Pratt 28/3/2021

Poem: On that day

On that day, 
between death 
and the dawn of new hope, 
there was despair and dread 
from those who had heard his predictions, 
but discarded them 
as doom-laden prophecies 
not to be fulfilled in their time.

On that day, 
between victory 
and defeat, 
there was triumph and rejoicing 
from those who had plotted to kill 
another dangerous, psuedo-Messiah, 
and no premonition 
that they could possibly be wrong.

On that day, 
between the burial 
and the anointing, 
the women wept 
because they had been prevented 
from performing their ritual caring 
for the body of a Son, 
a Master and a Lord., 
by those who feared 
that the body would be taken 
and the authorities made to look like fools.

On that day, 
creation held its breath 
and all was still.

But, the next morning … 
what a difference!

©Marjorie Dobson

How can God, condemned, be hanging?

How can God, condemned, be hanging?
False messiahs meet such ends, 
and the ones then testifying, 
have no need to make amends.
Educated folk were laughing, 
they foresaw what was to come, 
saw disciples hiding, crying, 
feeling both distraught and numb.
	
But that early Easter morning 
brought another scene to bear, 
Jesus mission had not ended, 
he was risen, standing there.
Still the story, more than foolish 
soon gave rise to talk and doubt. 
'Surely God could never suffer?' 
taunting people tease and shout.
	
Signs and wisdom are confounded 
by that stumbling block, the cross. 
Things that we once saw as wisdom 
now dismissed as foolish dross.
God had shown such strength in weakness. 
Those who shared Christ's dying breath
now at last could claim dominion, 
love defeating hate and death.

Words: Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) © 2012 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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: 8 7 8 7 D
Tune: CALON LAN