The care of all we seek or see – another response to the Coronavirus crisis: Psalm 121 – new link to a setting by John Kleinheksel added

The care of all we seek or see
was put into our hands,
but through our human arrogance
we thought we ruled all lands.
There was no thing beyond our grasp,
nor task beyond our means,
but limits hold us, keep us back,
deep-rooted in our genes.

Within a world of tooth and claw,
competing for a place,
we thought that we could dominate:
a mighty, human race.
But shocked, we should have recognized
our place within a plan,
we should have used our intellect
to prove our finite span.

We thought we were invincible
but now we understand,
a virus that we cannot see
could mark our final stand.
‘Pride comes before a fall’, they say,
and we were very proud,
but now we rue the day we spoke,
to state our case out loud.

At last it seems we need to pause,
to understand our plight,
to own our vulnerability,
to walk into the light:
Great God, however we believe,
we plead, we cry, we call,
come hold us, keep us, lift us up,
God catch us as we fall.
Andrew Pratt 20/3/2020
Metre: CMD
Tune: BETHLEHEM; CLAUDIUS (Fink)
Tune setting: The.Care.of.All.We.Seek.Virus
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.

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

 

What does singing do to us?

When we sing we embody (in-body) the theology that we have read. We take it in, translate, interpret and transmit. In the process are we, perhaps, formed or changed by the medium? Not pushing the metaphor too far, is it in any way like eating – what we eat becomes part of us, we excrete some of it, and it can nourish or poison…

So what we sing, and even how we sing, becomes important in a way we may not have envisaged before. It is one thing to read a text which remains remote, like looking at a cake and not eating it; it is something altogether different to take the text in and to re-transmit it. That we might do by reading aloud. The sheer physicality of singing, the presence of music, steps everything up a gear. Wesley knew that. That is why hymns were so important. The hymns provided portmanteau scriptures or interpretations, theology or doctrine. These were memorised and could be shared with others. And you can never lose them – which can become a bit of an irritation!

Why do you like this hymn or that? Why do you find some hymns abhorrent? ‘A good sing’ says as much, if not more, about feeling as it does about understanding or literary or musical quality. But Britta Martini wants to push us further by asking what is there in the expression of the music or the structure of a text, key or melody, image or metaphor, that causes a hymn to affect us in this way?

What hymns or songs affect you? And how? And why?