One of the traditional biblical genres of praise is the "song of ascents" (Psalms 120-134): that is, a walking-song, or, more precisely, a pilgrimage-song, which worshipers would sing as they made the journey up to Jerusalem to visit the Temple of God. The hymn below is my own attempt at a pilgrimage-song, set to a tune that fits a cheery walking gait: the charming (but rather too repetitive in its original lyrics) "Cleansing Wave" of Phoebe Palmer. Walk with Me I walk this day in pilgrimage Within the Father's grace: A journey from these vales of sin To wonder and to praise. (Chorus): Lord, take my hand and walk with me, My Guide and fellow Trav'ler be; Oh, let Your mighty mercy lead, And on this journey, walk with me. My faithful Shepherd watches me Upon life's winding trail; His rod and staff, they comfort me; His love shall never fail! (Chorus) As Christ and his disciples walked The roads of Galilee, May I too listen and be taught As Christ walks forth with me. (Chorus) Amid the triumph of my King I follow where He goes; Yes, further up and further in, To new creation's hope! (Chorus) One day in glory I will see The Lord who walks with me, And we'll forever journey forth Beside the crystal sea! (Chorus)
This new hymn is based loosely on several passages in the book of Ecclesiastes, which our church's prayer-meeting group just completed a long study in. I've set it to the traditional Celtic tune "Wild Mountain Thyme," with an extra bridge-chorus that is my own addition.
To All Things There's a Season
To all things there's a season, Times for laughter and for tears, Times for living and for dying, 'Mid the ever-circling years; Allelu, praise Him, Allelu.
(Chorus): Praise the Lord in your sorrows; Praise the Lord in times of joy; Ever let your heart sing to Him: Allelu, praise Him, Allelu.
In all life's changing seasons, Times of war and times of peace, There never is a season When the praise of God will cease; Allelu, praise Him, Allelu.
(Bridge-Chorus): Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Hallelujah, praise the Lord! Allelu, praise Him, allelu.
So serve the Lord with gladness, Through all the years He gives you; When in hardship or in plenty, Let His praises rise within you. Allelu, praise Him, Allelu.
"Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man's ability to just stop where he is and pass some time in his own company." - Seneca, 1st-century Roman philosopher, offering timelessly flattering encouragement to introverts everywhere
My new hymn this week is based on the New Testament theology of the Reign of God (often translated in the Gospels as "the Kingdom of God"). The verses provide an overview of biblical teachings on God's reign in us, God's reign through us, and then the final consummation of his reign in the future. The chorus is based on some of the triumphal angelic songs of the book of Revelation. I've set it to a tune inspired by Henry Work's old patriotic "Song of a Thousand Years," but with significant modifications. As you'll hear in my recording below (and please take my apologies for my shortcomings), it rather resembles a series of trumpet flourishes, and thus it may serve better as a performance piece than a congregational hymn. Lift Up Your Hearts! Lift up your hearts, O saints of God! The King's own Spirit dwells in you: He reigns in you, enthroned in your hearts; The Kingdom of God is within you! (Chorus:) All praise, all honor, and all glory Be to our God forevermore, For He has made this world's dominions The Kingdom of our risen Lord! Lift up your hearts, O saints of God! You're called to be His kings and priests; You sit with Christ enthroned in heaven; His reign flows through your prayers and deeds! (Chorus) Lift up your hearts, O saints of God! That which begins shall be in full: The Lord who reigns within and through you, One day He shall be Lord of all! (Chorus)
"Have courage for the great sorrows of life, and patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake." - Victor Hugo, 19th-century French novelist
My goal this week was to write a hymn in which the chorus could be used in the old tradition of an "arrow prayer." Among the early Desert Fathers, one of their common practices when beset by tempting thoughts was to pray simple, rapid-fire prayers for deliverance. The most popular one was from the first line of Psalm 70: "Make haste, O God, to save me; be swift, O Lord, to help me." I've incorporated that verse, along with the broader tradition of Kyrie Eleison prayers ("Lord, have mercy") into this hymn's chorus. The tune I use here is a modification of the music for Elwood Stokes' old hymn "Fill Me Now" (the timing is altered in the verses and final chorus line, while the initial chorus line has been rewritten altogether). When in All of My Temptations (Lord, Have Mercy) When in all of my temptations, I don't know where I should go; When I cannot stand in my strength, I turn unto you, O Lord. (Chorus:) Lord, have mercy! Lord, have mercy! Lord have mercy on me! Lord, make haste to help and save me; Lord, pour mercy out on me! When my heart is weighed with sorrow; When my eyes are dim with grief-- I look to my Rock, my Refuge; In my Savior there is peace. (Chorus) When the darts of Satan strike me, Sin surrounds me like a sea, Then I run for my salvation To the Lamb of Calvary. (Chorus)