Is this the day that dawns today, when all the world stands still,
when human lives are challenged in their arrogant, self-will?
Is this a time to sound again the grace which from our youth
Has brought us to this point in time to face eternal truth?
We wonder at the rhythms of creation we observe,
the genesis of all we see, the laws we sense and serve,
yet when we read in scripture of the wonders of this course,
we tend to shut our eyes to one last day of rest at source.
Now is the moment action takes the place of hollow sighs,
the sighs that speak of emptiness, of loneliness and lies;
great God, within this Sabbath rest we question and explore,
is this a time when you recede, a tide drawn from the shore?
Now is a time of deep compassion, caring and concern,
when every person needs the love that money cannot earn.
This is a time when values shift and search for solid ground,
to put aside our selfishness to go where grace is found.
© Andrew Pratt 17/3/2020
I have already found the political emphasis on economics in the face of the Coronavirus to be rather tiresome. Surely care of one another ought to be foremost and enabling the security of every person ought to take priority over all else.
As I write the news is full of coronavirus and in the UK Brexit seems to have disappeared off the agenda, at least temporarily. I wonder what our hymnody has to offer in this context?
I sense a mixed feeling from the low-key ‘this is like flu’ or ‘a bad cold’ to the warning that older people are more vulnerable, that this may be fatal and, aside from avoiding one another and washing our hands, there is little we can do. For which hymns do we reach at such times?
Perhaps this is a moment for that style of effervescent worship that lifts us above physical reality and, for a moment at least, takes us out of the world to which, inevitably, we will return when we leave church? Or is it time for ‘Abide with me’?
Are there texts which recognise the finality of our existence, which sharpen our focus and, maybe, our faith ‘till we cast our crowns before Thee, lost in wonder, love and praise’? Is there a middle way
which acknowledges the finitude of human earthly existence while, at the same time, offering some reassurance of the persistent love of God in spite of all things, that love from which, mythologically or in ultimate reality, we can never be separated?
For God is your celestial shield,
no cosmic power, nor human scheme
will separate you from that love
no matter how your terrors teem.
*From ‘Rejoice for things are as they are’ Andrew E Pratt; Partly inspired by Psalm 121 and Romans 8 v38-39 © 2003, 2006 Stainer & Bell Ltd. Full text: https://hymnsandbooks.blog/2020/03/13/rejoice-for-things-are-as-they-are-a-hymn-in-time-of-trouble/