Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart,
My zeal inspire;
As Thou hast died for me,
O may my love to Thee
Pure, warm, and changeless be,
A living fire!

- Verse 2 of Ray Palmer's hymn "My Faith Looks Up to Thee"

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hymn of the Week: I Bind Unto Myself (St Patrick's Breastplate)

This hymn is an adaptation of the famous ancient Irish prayer attributed to Saint Patrick (often called "St. Patrick's Breastplate"). There have been many attempts to render his prayer-poem into song--my current favorite is the recent worship song by All Sons and Daughters, "Christ Be All Around Me"--and my own effort adds to that corpus only in that it adheres more closely to a traditionally hymnic form. Much of the verse material comes directly from a translation of St. Patrick's prayer as recorded in the Treasury of Religious Verse (1972), along with a chorus that I wrote based on the central theme of the original Irish poem. I've recorded it to a repeated use of the tune from Isaac Watts' "Jesus Shall Reign," but it would fit any Long Meter tune scheme.

I Bind Unto Myself

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need;
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
     Christ be before me, Christ behind,
     Christ in the eye and in the mind
     Of all who see me on this day,
     Following in my Savior's way.
               Amen, Amen, Amen!

I bind unto myself the name,
The strong name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same:
The Three in One and One in Three,
Maker of all, seen and unseen,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word;
Praise to the God who sets me free:
Salvation comes from Christ my Lord!
     Christ be before me, Christ behind,
     Christ in the eye and in the mind
     Of all who see me on this day,
     Following in my Savior's way.
               Amen, Amen, Amen!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Photo of the Week

When my soul is o'erwhelmed by the waves of distress,
And doubt and despair my faint spirits oppress,
May the beacon of faith, beaming bright from above,
Guide my tempest-tossed barque to Thy harbor of love.

- from #79 of the Augustine Hymn Book, 19th cent.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Quote of the Week

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."

- George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), 19th-century novelist

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

- the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:16-21)

(Image: Baroque ceiling fresco from Ljubljana Catheral, Slovenia, painted by Giulio Quaglio in the early 18th century; photo by Petar Milosevic; usage licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike International 4.0 license)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Our God Is Lord of All

My new hymn this week is set to an adapted version of the old Robert Lowry tune to the hymn "Something for Thee." (Most of the tune remains the same, but I've composed a different final line.) The chorus that I've written comes from the song of the angels before the throne of God in Rev. 7:12. The verses introduce this paean of worship with reflections on each member of the Trinity.

Our God Is Lord of All

Our God is Lord of all,
Over all things sovereign.
In Him is love and grace,
Joy without end!

     Praise, glory, and honor,
     And wisdom, strength, and pow'r
     Be to our God forever
     Amen, Amen!

Christ is our Savior,
Master and friend.
By his death and new life,
We may enter in.


The Spirit is our guide,
Always, ever present,
Giving us pow'r to love
And to repent.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Photo of the Week

As pants the deer for cooling 
When weary in the chase,
So longs my soul, O God, for 
And thy refreshing grace.

Why restless, why cast down, 
          my soul?
Hope still, and thou shalt sing
The praise of him who is thy 
Thy Savior, and thy King.

- verses 1 & 4 of the hymn "As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams" (adapted), by Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady

Monday, August 19, 2019

Quote of the Week

"The minister, as a living memory of God's great deeds in history, is called to heal by reminding people of their wounded past and by connecting their wounds with the wounds of all humanity, redeemed by the suffering of God in Christ."

- Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Living Reminder

(Painting: "Abandoned Clergy House," by Albert Chmielowski, 1888)

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord,
To thy faithful people pardon and peace,
That they may be cleansed from all their sins,
And serve thee with a quiet mind;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

- Gregory the Great

Friday, August 16, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Lord, Pour Out Your Spirit

(Camp meeting during the Second Great Awakening)
This week's hymn is a prayer for the work of God to break out in revival in the world around us. Its verses lift up successive prayers for our local area, for our nation, and for the world. In its repetitive nature, it's something akin to my "prayer anthem" genre. The tune here is that of the classic hymn "More about Jesus."

Lord, Pour Out Your Spirit (Revival Prayer)

God of our hope, we raise this prayer,
Placing our homes beneath your care:
Here in our cities have your way;
Reign in this very place today!

     Lord, pour out your Spirit!
     Lord, pour out your Spirit!
     As we proclaim the Gospel call,
     Lord, let revival's fire fall!

God of our hope, we raise this prayer,
Placing our nation in your care:
Now in this country have your way;
Reign in your glory here today!


God of our hope, we raise this prayer,
Placing our world in your care:
In all the nations have your way,
'Til all the earth extols your reign!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Photo of the Week

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
My confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
You brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.

- Psalm 71:5-6

Monday, August 12, 2019

Quote of the Week

"The prayers of the saints and the fire of God move the whole course of the world. They are the most potent, most disturbing, most revolutionary, most terrifying powers that the world knows.... All history moves at the impulse of prayer."

- T. F. Torrance, from his commentary on Revelation

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

Gracious Spirit, dwell with me;
I myself would gracious be,
And with words that help and heal
Would Thy life in mine reveal,
And with actions bold and meek
Would for Christ my Savior speak.

          - Thomas T. Lynch

Friday, August 09, 2019

Hymn of the Week: With All My Heart

My new hymn this week is a musical response to Jesus' teaching on the Greatest Commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength." It's set to the tune of the old Philip Doddridge hymn "Hark, the Glad Sound!"

With All My Heart

With all my heart I love you, Lord,
With everything in me--
The deepest wells of my desire
Are yours eternally.

With all my soul I love you, Lord,
With everything in me--
My spirit looks in awe upon
Your love's infinity.

With all my mind I love you, Lord,
With everything in me--
May every choice and every thought
Bring glory unto Thee.

With all my strength I love you, Lord,
With everything in me--
For only by your mighty grace
Do I find liberty.

I love you, oh, I love you, Lord,
Thou source of all my love--
Be magnified in all I am,
In this life and above!


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Photo of the Week

O God of truth, O Lord of might,
Who orderest time and change aright,
Brightening the morn with golden gleams,
Kindling the noonday's fiery beams;
Quench Thou in us the flames of strife,
From passion's heat preserve our life,
Our bodies keep from perils free,
And give our souls true peace in Thee.

- from an ancient hymn by Ambrose of Milan

Monday, August 05, 2019

Quote of the Week

"Prayer is by nature a dialogue and a union of man with God. Its effect is to hold the world together."

- John Climacus, monastic church father and author of The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Saturday Synaxis

O heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty:
Open our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works;
that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve
thee with gladness; 
for the sake of him through whom all things were made, 
thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 

- Book of Common Prayer

Friday, August 02, 2019

Hymn of the Week: Love's Simplicity

This week's hymn is an experiment in an unusual format: it contains a dialogue back and forth between the believer and Christ himself (the initial stanza of each verse being the believer's prayer and the answering stanza and chorus being the Lord's response). I imagine it would only work if an indication the character-parts were printed in the hymnal along with the text of the lyrics (as bel0w); lest its dual voice confuse the singer. All that to say, it's probably unusable in most settings, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. It's set to the tune of "Sweet Hour of Prayer," but with the second half doubled.

Love's Simplicity

"Lord, what have I to offer You?
What service can I render You?
My heart is full of frailty's pain,
And though I try, I fail again."
     "I haven't called you to success,
     But just to walk in faithfulness,
     And if you would my follower be,
     I'll make you what I'd have you be.
     Yes, hear my call and follow me;
     Be great in love's simplicity!
     For if you trustingly obey,
     The mountains move before your faith."

"I yearn to do some mighty thing
To serve Your name, exalt my King;
But oft I fail the simplest task,
And must Your pardon ever ask."
     "I've called you to abide in me,
     As branch to vine, receive my peace.
     For in you I am glorified
     When you walk faithfully at my side.
     Yes, hear my call and follow me;
     Be great in love's simplicity!
     For if you trustingly obey,
     The mountains move before your faith." 

"Forgive my pride and discontent;
I'll gladly follow where I'm sent.
And let my highest glory be
To do what You have planned for me."
     "Just love me with your heart and soul;
     Believe in me and be made whole!
     You'll see what mighty things are wrought
     Through those who trust their ways to God.
     Yes, hear my call and follow me;
     Be great in love's simplicity!
     For if you trustingly obey,
     The mountains move before your faith."