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Notes on the Notes – June 21, 2015

This week’s theme: Holy Superheroes

This week’s scripture reading:

Samuel 17: 32-33, 41-44, 45-49
Mark 4: 35-41

This week’s music:

“Jesus, Saviour, Pilot Me” (VU #637)

“Jesus, Saviour, pilot me over life’s tempestuous sea;
Unknown waves before me roll, hiding rock and treacherous shoal;Jesus Saviour Pilot Me
Chart and compass come from thee, Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.

As a mother stills her child, thou canst hush the ocean wild;
Boisterous waves obey thy will when thou biddest them ‘Be still.’
Wondrous sovereign of the sea, Jesus, Saviour, pilot me.

When at last I near the shore, and the fearful breakers roar
‘Twixt me and the peaceful land, still supported by thy hand,
May I hear thee say to me, ‘Fear not, I will pilot thee.'”

The sea is a favorite image of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century hymn writers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Traveling by ship, although an adventure, was also potentially a long and arduous journey fraught with danger, especially storms and unseen rocks.  God is often depicted as one who has control over the storms.

“Jesus, Savior, pilot me” falls in a long and rich tradition of hymns that draw upon the imagery of the sea to establish the relationship between the believer and Christ. Edward Hopper (1816-1888) was inspired by the accounts of Jesus who stilled the storm found in all of the synoptic gospels (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25). Written at the request by George S. Webster, secretary of the Seaman’s Friend Society, the hymn was first published in the Society’s magazine, The Sailor’s Magazine and Seaman’s Friend in the March 3, 1871 issue. The designation was, “By Rev. Edward Hopper, D.D., Pastor of the Church of the Sea and Land.”

The tune, PILOT, is by John Edgar Gould and was composed for Hopper’s text.

Hear the hymn at:  https://youtu.be/xgtz3V2IGdo

“Great God, We Sing that Mighty Hand” (VU #529)

“Great God, we sing that mighty hand by which supported still we stand;
The opening year your mercy shows; your mercy crowns it till it close.

With grateful hearts the past we own; the future, all to us unknown,
We to your guardian care commit, and peaceful leave before your feet.

In scenes exalted or depressed, you are our joy, and you our rest;
Your goodness all our hopes shall raise, adored through all our changing days.”

The text used here is the first, third, and fourth verses of Philip Doddridge’s hymn “For the New Year,” based on Acts 26:22, first published in 1755.   The tune, WAREHAM, was composed by William Knapp in 1738.

Hear the hymn at:  https://youtu.be/1QN1_hpUpcE

“How Firm a Foundation” (VU #660)

“How firm a foundation, you servants of God,
Is laid for your faith in God’s excellent word!
What more can be said than to you has been said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

‘Fear not, I am with you; O be not dismayed!
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen and help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.’

When through the deep waters I call you to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.’

‘When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be your supply;
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.’

‘The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not – I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never – no, never – no, never forsake!'”

The text for this hymn is from A Selection of Hymns from the Best Authors, published in 1787.  The author, known only as “K,” may have been Richard Keen.  Through the hymn the author states his faith in the sureness of God’s ever-present help and protection through all of the trials of life. The tune, ST. DENIO, is a traditional Welsh melody adapted into a hymn tune during the Welsh revivals at the turn of the 19th century.  It is most familiar for its use by Ralph Vaughan Williams with the hymn “Immortal, Invisible.”

 “This Little Light of Mine”

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,this little light
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine,
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

On a Monday, He gave the gift of love,
On Tuesday, peace came from above,
On Wednesday, told me to have more faith,
On Thursday, gave me just a little more grace,
On Friday, told me to watch and pray,
On Saturday, told me just what to say,
On Sunday, gave me the power divine,
Just to let my little light shine.”

This week’s anthem is an arrangement of the traditional American folk-song by Neil A. Johnson (1979).  The original gospel children’s song had lyrics by Avis Burgeson Christiansen and a tune written by composer and teacher Harry Dixon Loes.  It was written around 1920.  The song has since entered the folk tradition, first being collected by John Lomax in 1939.  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.” Alternatively, 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.”

See Bruce Springstein’s version of the song at: https://youtu.be/ZZ6SAryPyQk

“Halle, Halle, Halle”  (VU #958)

“Halle, halle, hallelujah!
Halle, halle, hallelujah!
Halle, halle, hallelujah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” (repeat)

This traditional liturgical text is sent to music by the Iona Community (1990).  We will be using it for our offering response.

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

Guide me

“Guide me, O though great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but thou art mighty, hold me with thy powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more,
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through.
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer, be thou still my strength and shield,
Be though still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s destruction, land me safe on Canaan’s side;
Songs of praises, songs of praises I will ever give to thee
I will ever give to thee.”

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.  Some decades later, Peter Williams (no relation) of Camarthen translated three of the five stanzas into English for his Hymns on Various Subjects (1771). In the version in Voices United, verse one is taken from the translation by Peter Williams and verses two and three are translations made by the author himself. The tune CWM RHONDDA was composed in 1905 by John Hughes, the precentor at Llantwit Fardre chapel, for a Baptist Cymanfau Ganu (Singing Festival) in Pontypridd. The tune was originally called RHONDDA; “cwn” (the Welsh word for valley) was added to distinguish it from another tune of the same name. The valley of the river Rhondda is the heart of the coal mining industry in south Wales.

Read more about the hymn’s history at: http://www.challies.com/articles/hymn-stories-guide-me-o-thou-great-jehovah

Video of this hymn from the wedding of Prince William and Kate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwvpTl88jwI

“May the God of Hope” (VU #424)

“May the God of hope go with us every day,
Filling all our lives with love and joy and peace.
May the God of justice speed us on our way,
Bringing light and hope to every land and race.
Praying, let us work for peace,
Singing, share our joy with all,
Working for a world that’s new,
Faithful when we hear Christ’s call.”

The first verse of this hymn was written in 1984 by Alvin Schutmaat, an American Presbyterian musician, theologian, and educator who taught in South America and Mexico. Alvin L. Schutmaat was born in Michigan in 1921, educated in the United States and did post-graduate studies in Scotland. He was appointed by the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a missionary to South America, where he taught theology and music in Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. An educator, theologian and administrator, he used the arts to communicate the gospel. “May the God of Hope” is a song of blessing, justice and peace.  The tune is an Argentine folk melody chosen by Alvin Schutmaat for his text.

Categories: Notes on the Notes