Across the Dark Sea

Across the dark sea the multitudes came,
Demanding that Jesus some miracle show,
And new signs to see, or more bread to claim,
Asked, “when did you get here, and why did you go?”

But answered he then, “See, I am the bread.
I came down from heaven the world to make free.
Who so eat of me shall wake from the dead,
And I’ll live in them just as they live in me.”

“You’re Joseph’s son, though, and Jesus your name.”
Their ire arose in a grumbling heat.
“Just what do you mean, ‘from heaven I came?’
And how can you give us your body to eat?”

“My flesh is true food, my blood is true drink,”
The multitudes then heard their Savior to say.
“His teaching is hard,” in heart some did think,
And so from their life and salvation turned ’way.

“Will you leave as well?” he turns now to urge.
Let love in our answer proclaim, “This we know:
Eternal life wells in all of your words.
O Christ, Son of God, to whom then shall we go?”


A New (to me) Hymn Blog

Ran across this today: David’s Hymn Blog

David Hamrick was one of the music professors at Lipscomb while I was there.  He’s currently working his way through the Praise for the Lord hymnal, providing analysis of the text and music of each hymn.  He also has a lot of Restoration Movement history mixed in, especially with regards to our hymnody.

Here’s a good sample post: “Concerning hymns”by Jessie Brown Pounds

Advent Book, 2011 Edition

I’ve updated the Advent song book from last year.  The most notable change is the addition of Daniel Henderson’s “Hymn for a Household” to the tune of Old Hundredth.

You can download it here: The Lord is Near – 2011 Edition

This is the text of the introduction:

The past decades have seen increased interest among non-liturgical Christians in traditional forms of Christian faith and practice.  Ancient customs that were once viewed with skepticism as dead rituals, or with outright hostility as poisonous “traditions of men,” are reappearing in a new light, as powerful aids to spiritual growth and steadying defenses against the onslaught of a secular anti-culture.

This is particularly true for the ancient custom of Advent.  While the surrounding world prepares for a singular Christmas Day with relentless advertising, shopping and sales, the observance of Advent reminds Christians to watch with prayer, alms-giving, and fasting for the imminent arrival of their Lord.  Among the orgies of consumer avarice and gluttony personified in a secular Santa Claus, Christians are once again remembering the real Saint Nicholas and his generosity to the poor.  Finally, the observance of Advent reminds us that Christmas Day is not the end, but the beginning of the Christmas season.

To many, fasting and repentance during “the most wonderful time of the year” will appear out-of-sync, even “Scrooge-like.”  Yet the Apostle Paul, distilling the gospel to a mere sentence, declared, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Cor. 2:2, ESV) Within this verse is contained the seeds for both Christmas and Easter, for the special observances of the incarnation as well as the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.  Both call us to repentance and watchfulness, and both benefit from a time of careful and serious introspection.

This booklet of songs and prayers was compiled to aid families and small groups in observing the important season of Advent.  The songs may be used however desired, but the suggested use for families is one per day for a weekly cycle.  (This 2011 edition adds Lord Christ, Beneath Thy Starry Dome, a song well suited for family use.)  The collects from the BCP may be used each night of the designated week, particularly when lighting candles on an Advent wreath.  The other prayers may be used as desired.  There are twenty-eight Advent scripture readings, enough for one per day on any year.  They need not be read in the order they are listed.  There are thirteen Christmas scriptures, one for Christmas eve and each of the twelve days of Christmas thereafter.  These are partially ordered to give a sense of the chronology of the biblical story.

It is my hope that you will find this a helpful resource in “redeeming the time” from the continual assaults of a society that would gladly wish us to forget our Lord among the bustle of a busy holiday season.  May God bless you and your family this Advent.

At Even When the Sun Was Set

At even when the sun was set,
The sick, O Lord, around Thee lay;
O in what divers pains they met!
O with what joy they went away!

Once more ’tis eventide, and we
Oppressed with various ills draw near;
What if Thy form we cannot see?
We know and feel that Thou art here.

O Savior Christ, our woes dispel;
For some are sick, and some are sad,
And some have never loved Thee well
And some have lost the love they had;

And some have found the world is vain,
Yet from the world they break not free;
And some have friends who give them pain,
Yet have not sought a friend in Thee;

And none, O Lord, have perfect rest,
For none are wholly free from sin;
And they who fain would serve Thee best
Are conscious most of wrong within.

O Savior Christ, Thou too art Man;
Thou hast been troubled, tempted, tried;
Thy kind but searching glance can scan
The very wounds that shame would hide.

Thy touch has still its ancient power;
No word from Thee can fruitless fall;
Hear in this solemn evening hour,
And in Thy mercy heal us all.

Henry Twells


A prayer for healing.  We sing it to ‘Jesus, thou Joy of Loving Hearts’ (Maryton).

O Lord and Master of My Life

A metricized form of the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, in common meter. There are a million hymn tunes for this meter; I suggest St. Anne.

O Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not that I should live
In lazing sloth, nor weak despair,
And spurn the tasks Thou’d give.

Ambition’s spirit, lust for pow’r,
Cast far away from me.
Let not my tongue spout empty words,
Nor profane man, nor Thee.

Instead of these, Thy servant grant
Thy freeing chastity,
And teach, O Christ, in pathways dark
Thine own humility.

A patient Spirit give to me,
Thy calm indwelling Dove,
And that I might Thee better know,
Lord, crown my heart with love.

Yea, Lord and King, help me to spy
My own corroding faults,
And not to judge my brother’s sins,
But serve him as I ought.

Great God, our Father, Christ His Son,
And Spirit, Trinity,
Most bless’d art Thou from age to age,
And through eternity.

In Thy Presence, God Our King

Update: (11/19/2010)  Recent reading has given me a slightly better grasp of poetic meter, and I discovered a few problems in the text.  I have made a few minor revisions and updated the PDF file.

Update: (7/8/1009)  After discovering parallel fifths in three of the four lines, I have made a set of small changes to the alto part.  The files linked below are now the corrected versions.

This is a hymn I’ve been working on for the last few months, based on lots of different things I’ve been reading and thinking about.  You can download a PDF of the sheet music here.  A MIDI file may be downloaded here.  I have also written a set of annotations that describes my own interpretation of the lyrics and provides scriptural references, here.  I’ve released this under a Creative Commons license, which means that you are free to copy, distribute, and generally use the hymn however you like, provided the use or distribution is non-commercial, and that you attribute the work to the author.

In Thy presence, God our King,
holy angels praises bring.
They, who see all earth’s wide face
and know no forbidden place,
“Holy, Holy, Holy!” cry,
Glory be to God on high,”
falling down with rev’rent awe.
In the same way, may we all.

On the throne: our Lord and Friend,
slain for all, yet ris’n again,
Firstfruit of all frames who lie
waiting, yet, ’til “death shall die.”
Tyrants tremble, princes quake
as the Lamb their scepter breaks.
Bearing wounds His love to tell,
Christ has smashed the gates of Hell!

Shining now like stars appear:
saints, who all did persevere,
braving flames and dungeons dark,
jeering friends and lion’s marks.
See! they beckon us who race,
holding high the prize we chase,
off’ring prayers up for our sake,
that we might good runners make.

Soon, our Bridegroom shall appear.
Soon, all dark things be made clear.
Soon His banquet feast we’ll sup,
figured now in Bread and Cup.
How creation groans with pain,
longing to be whole again!
Hasten, Lord, set wrongs to right,
death to life, and faith to sight!

Regional Culture

This hymn is said to have originated in Tennessee.  (Collected by John Jacob Niles.)  I know it’s a bit late for Christmas, but I thought it was worth posting, anyways.

Jesus the Christ is born,
Give thanks now, every one.
Rejoice, ye great ones and ye small,
God’s will, it has been done.

Ye mighty kings of earth,
Before the manger bed,
Cast down, cast down your golden crown
From off your royal head.

For in this lowly guise
The son of God do sleep,
And see the Queen of Heaven kneel,
Her faithful vigil keep.

Two angels at His head,
Two angels at His feet
Beside His bed the flower red,
Perfuming there so sweet.

Jesus the Christ is born,
Give thanks now, every one.
Rejoice, ye great ones and ye small,
God’s will, it has been done.