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Notes on the Notes – June 16, 2013

Theme:  Ethical means being right with God

Scripture:  1 Kings 21:1-21

This week’s Music:

“God is Here” (VU #389) –

“God is here!  As we your people meet to offer praise and prayer, may we find in fuller measure what it is in Christ we share.  Here, as in the world around us, all our varied skills and arts wait the coming of the Spirit into open minds and hearts.”

Fred Pratt Green has published plays, translations, and poems.  This hymn was commissioned for the closing of an eight-month church festival on worship, music, and the arts at University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas (1978).  William P. Rowlands composed the tune during the Welsh revival of 1904-1905.

“Praise and Thanksgiving” (VU #441) –

“Praise and thanksgiving be to our Creator, source of this sacrament, Saviour, Mediator.  Baptize and make your own these who come before you, while we adore you.”

This strong Trinitairan song of praise and invocation of the Spirit at baptism is an expression of joy and power.  The text was written for a thesis on “Baptism” by Frank Whitely (1969).  He was assisted in versification by Harold Francis Yardley.  Both men were United Church ministers.    The words are set to a German hymn tune by Johann Cruger (1653).  The hymn was first published in The Hymn Book (1971).

“This Little Light of Mine” –  “This Little Light of Mine” is a gospel children’s song written by composer and teacher Harry Dixon Loes (1895–1965) circa 1920. Loes, who studied at the Moody Bible Institute and the American Conservatory of Music, was a musical composer, and teacher, who wrote, and co-wrote, several other gospel songs. The song has since entered the folk tradition, first being collected by John Lomax in 1939. Often thought of as a Negro spiritual, it does not, however, appear in any collection of jubilee or plantation songs from the nineteenth century. Depending on the source, the song may take its theme from Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heaven.” Or, it may refer to the words of Jesus in Luke 11:33, where he said, “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.” Or, it may be based on Matthew 5:14–15, where Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”

In true folk style, every version is different, either in words, form or musical style. No matter who is singing, This Little Light of Mine remains a most powerful song of personal freedom, and no matter the style, some of the child-like jubilation and wonder found in that original children’s hymn still shines through every time.

Some videos you may enjoy:

Bruce Springsteen – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZ6SAryPyQk

From the 90s hit show “Fresh Prince of Belair” (with a quick shot of Will Smith on the tambourine) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsXBFX2mpjI

The Lower Lights – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBcP4x_RcAU

Soweto Gospel Choir – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VSsBERv-lk

The Seekers – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNneGmj81zk


“Forth in Your Name, O Christ”(VU #416) –

“Forth in your name, O Christ, we go, our daily labour to pursue, you, only you, resolved to know in all we think, or speak, or do.”

This text, from Chales Welsey’s Hymns and Sacred Poems (1749), is one of the few hymns directly about work.  The tune, CANONBURY, is one of a number of 19th-century hymn tunes adapted from instrumental works by well-known composers.  The melody is from Robert Schumann’s Nachtstucke, Opus 23, No. 4 (1839) for solo piano.


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