Notes on the Notes – July 18, 2021

“Worship Through Song”

This Week’s Music

“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”

Our service this week will open with the first section of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,”  one of the most popular choral compositions of Johann Sebastian Bach. It was crafted around 1714-1716.   It was originally a choral piece, the 10th movement of “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben,” his famous cantata. However, the melody of this piece was composed by Johann Schop, while Johann Sebastian orchestrated and harmonized the melody.

Enjoy a beautiful guitar version of the song at:

“Take My Life and Let it Be” (VU #506)

Our first hymn was written by Frances Ridley Havergal early in 1874 to celebrate a period of religious awakening at a household where she was visiting.  The anonymous tune is derived from the “Kyrie” of a mass long thought to have been composed by Mozart. The words express our commitment to God as we work in the world.  The recording is from our service of worship on October 18, 2020, when we discussed the theme of “Giving to God What is God’s”

Hear the hymn sung with piano accompaniment at:

Great is Thy Faithfulness” (VU #288)

Thomas O. Chisholm, a Methodist minister, wrote this poem in 1923 about God’s faithfulness over his lifetime.  The conviction that God is always with us, through good times and bad, has always been a great source of comfort and strength for the faithful.  William Runyan set the poem to music, and it was published that same year and became popular among church groups. The song was exposed to wide audiences after becoming popular with Dr. William Henry Houghton of the Moody Bible Institute and Billy Graham who played the song frequently on his international crusades. The version in Voices United is from the Hymnal of the Evangelical United Brethren (1957).  Our recording is from October 25, 2020.  The theme that Sunday was “Loving, But Only With God as Our Help?”

Hear a quiet instrumental version of the hymn at:

Watch the acapella version by Veritas at:

Hear the hymn sung by a massed choir at:

“Love the Lord Your God”

This beautifully simple song was written by Jean and Jim Strathdee in 1991. The text is taken directly from the gospel of Matthew. The recording is also from the October 25, 2020 service.

“Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” (VU #651)

William Williams was a hymn writer (in Welsh and English) and an itinerant preacher during the Welsh revival of the 1740s. The theme of this hymn, written in Welsh in 1745, is the Israelites’ return to the promised land.  More generally, the hymn confesses our human weakness, and trust in God’s divinity to bring us through the wilderness of life to a home in heaven.  The tune CWM RHONDDA was composed in 1905 by John Hughes, the precentor at Llantwit Fardre chapel, for a Baptist Singing Festival in Pontypridd.  Our recording is from September 27, 2020, when our worship theme centred around life-giving water.

Sing along with choirs and congregation at:

Enjoy the virtuoso organ playing of Diane Bish at:

Come, Let us Sing of a Wonderful Love” (#574)

This hymn was written by Robert Walmsley, a jeweller in Manchester and a Congregationalist leader of the Manchester Sunday School Union, in 1900.  Adam Watson’s WONDERFUL LOVE is the tune known to Canadian congregations for his text.  The hymn leads us from the eternal love of God for us, through the coming of Jesus, who tells of us God’s love and searches for the lost, to the yearning for God’s continuing love.  Our recording comes from the fourth week of our Lenten journey, March 14, 2021.

Hear the hymn sung at Strathroy United Church at:

He Leadeth Me” (VU #657)

Joseph Henry Gilmore wrote this text, based on Psalm 23, in Philadelphia in March, 1862, during the American Civil War. His wife submitted the poem to the Boston journal, Watchman and Reflector, where William B. Bradbury saw it. Bradbury adapted the hymn text to a verse and refrain structure and published his setting in Golden Censer (1864). Gilmore later discovered his hymn in a new gospel songbook while visiting another city, and was quite amazed at its growing popularity. The recording also comes from March 14, 2021.

Sing along with the London Fox Singers at:

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” (VU #291)

This classic text, from Cecil Frances Alexander’s Hymns for Little Children (1846), is based on the phrase “Maker of heaven and earth” in the Apostles’ Creed. The new words for verse four are particularly apt in the Canadian context. The tune, ROYAL OAK, is an English traditional melody associated with the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660. The arrangement in Voices United is by Martin Shaw (1915). The editors of Voices United also changed the words slightly in the interest of inclusivity. This hymn was sung in worship on the Sunday before Earth Day, April 18, 2021.

Sing along at:

Here I Am, Lord” (“I, the Lord of Sea and Sky) – (VU #509)

“When The United Methodist Hymnal was published in 1989, one of the most popular hymns was immediately “Here I Am, Lord” (1981) by Dan Schutte (b. 1947).   The stirring refrain is perhaps the first part of the hymn to capture the singer’s imagination.…“Here I Am, Lord” recalls immediately Isaiah 6:8:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’”

An unusual attribute of this hymn is the change in point of view that the singer makes between the stanzas and the refrain. The stanzas speak from the perspective of God in the first person singular, while the refrain, though remaining in first person, is from the perspective of the singers of the hymn offering their lives to God.

Each stanza reflects a paradox. The powerful God, creator of “sea and sky,” “snow and rain” and “wind and flame” is also the God who hears the “people cry,” bears the “people’s pain” and “tend[s] the poor and lame.” This is a hymn of transformation. God transforms the darkness into light in stanza one, melts “hearts of stone” with love in stanza two and nourishes the “poor and lame” with the “finest bread.”

Each stanza ends with the question, “Whom shall I send?” … The refrain immediately offers the response, “Here I am, Lord.”…”  (Source:

The hymn was recorded for the worship service for Trinity Sunday, May 30, 2021.

Hear the original version of the song, sung by the songwriter, Dan Schutte:

Watch an amazing virtual choir performance by the choir/orchestra of St. Lilian:

I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry”  (VU #644)

This is perhaps the best known song of Iowa composer John Ylvisake.  The words of the song are spoken in the voice of God, and assure us that we are never alone through our life’s journey. The hymn was the opening hymn of our service on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2021.

Hear the song at:

Wherever You May Go” (MV #216)

Our service of music this week ends with an instrumental version of the song “Wherever You May Go,”  written by David Kai in 1996.


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