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Notes on the Notes – April 14, 2013

Theme:  Now What?

 Today’s readings:

Acts 9:1-6 (7-20) – conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus

John 21:1-19 – Jesus appears to the disciples while they are fishing


Today’s music:

 “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” (VU #344) –  This hymn was written by John Newton, who is better known for his hymn “Amazing Grace.”  John Newton’s hymn on the name of Jesus, published in Olney Hymns, Book I (1779), is a fine example of his skill at incorporating scriptural phrases and allusions into his poetry.  The tune was written as a setting of Psalm 118 by Alexander Robert Reinagle in his Psalms for the Voice and Piano.  It is named ST PETER after the church in Oxford where he served as organist for thirty years.

Years after his conversion,  John Newton moved to be vicar of Olney in Northamptonshire and it was while at Olney that he wrote over 280 hymns.   One of the outstanding features of hymns of the 18th and 19th centuries is that they were steeped in sound biblical teaching. In part, this was because they were used as a teaching medium but also because they were addressed to people who, by and large, were familiar with their bibles.  It surely is a demonstration of the amazing grace of God that a man, to whom for many years the name of Jesus was used simply as an oath, could pen such words:

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds In a believer’s ear!   It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds, and drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole, it calms the troubled breast; ‘Tis manna to the hungry soul, and to the weary rest.

Dear Name! the rock on which I build my shield, and hiding place, my neverfailing treasury, filled with bounless stores of grace.

Jesus, my Shepherd, Brother, Friend, my Prophet, Priest, and King, my Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

The effort of my heart is weak, and cold my warmest thought;  but when I see you whom I seek, I’ll praise you as I ought.

For a more indepth look at this hymn go to: http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bnewton4.html  or http://truthfortoday.org.uk/transcripts/T0599.html

“He Came Singing Love” (VU #359) – Colin Gibson is a composer, organist and professor of English at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  He wrote this song in 1972 for a national hymn competition sponsored by Television New Zealand.  In the book, “Preaching as Theological Task” (ed. Thomas G. Long & Edward Farley), Mary Lin Hudson writes, “The hymn writer Colin Gibson has captured the idea (of life in new forms) in the recently published song “He Came Singing Love.”   The word “love” changes verse by verse to “faith,” “hope,” “peace,” and the lines will accomodate any word that describes the reality of God’s new order for creation.  It is the structure of the poetry, however, that captures the parabolic nature of Jesus’ ministry:

‘He came singing love and he lived singing love,

He died singing love,

He arose in silence.

For the love to go on, we must make it our song.

You and I be the singers.’…

The reality of Jesus cannot be forced onto humanity, but human community can find Christ’s freedom taking shape within it.   While the silence following proclamation provides room for Christ to emerge in a new form within community, the Spirit of Christ comes to life in the speech of the community as the word becomes embodied in its voice.”

“Come, Share the Lord” – This communion anthem was published by Bryan Jeffrey Leech (1931- ) in 1984.   Leech, a hymn writer and pastor, was a member of the hymnal committeees for The Covenant Hymnal (1973) and Hymns for the Family of God (1976).  He composed the tune for this song at Christmas 1982 and the text in the summer of 1983.  The piece was arranged by Roland Takell and first published as a communion anthem in 1984.   It has since be published in 8 hymn books, included Voices United (#469).    The tune DIVERNON, is named for a street on which friends of Bryan Leech live.

“Now Let Us From This Table Rise” (VU 483) –  This hymn was written by Fred Kaan (1929-2009) in 1964  for his congregation at Pilgrim Church in Plymouth, to fill a need for post-communion hymns.   In an article in The Hymn he says,

“The very first hymn I ever wrote was a post-communion text.  How could it have been otherwise?  What happens after we have shared the bread and wine at the Lord’s table has, from the beginning, been one of my main preoccupations:  how do we make that vital transition from worship to service; how do we prepare ourselves for the liturgy after the liturgy?  In the first line of the last stanza.. (we have the words)  ‘Then give us grace, Companion-God.’  I would remind you that the word companion comes from the Latin cum – together with, and panis – bread.  A companion is someone with whom you break bread.”

The tune, NIAGARA, was composed by Robert Jackson, an organist and choir director from Oldham, Lancashire.  It was first published in 1887.


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