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Notes on the Notes – March 10, 2019

First Sunday of Lent

Wandering in the Wilderness

This week’s scripture readings:    

Deuteronomy 26:1-11       Psalm 91: 1:1-2, 9-16       Luke 4:1-13

This week’s music:

“Be Still and Know”

“Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.”

In response to our weekly Lenten candle-lighting, we will be singing this short meditative centering response. The words are from Psalm 46:10, 7:1 and Exodus 15:26. The arrangement is by Jack Schrader (1988).

“To the Desert Jesus Came” (VU #113)

“To the desert Jesus came, to wrestle and to seek God’s way.
Sun and moon rose high above to watch him as he’d fast and pray.
Together through the valley, the tempter led him around.
Together through the valley, so Jesus answers found.

Like the Hebrews long ago who ventured through the desert sand,
Did he find a rock of faith, where streams of living waters ran?
Together through the valley, so shall we make our way.
Together through the valley, we’ll walk for forty days.

In the desert we may find the mystery of who we are,
Following a faithful God, so very close and yet so far.Jesus in the wilderness
Together through the valley, we’ll gather our dreams in prayer,
Together though the valley, and find God’s presence there.

From the ashes to the hill, we’ll travel on our Lenten road.
Hand in hand we’ll cross this sand, and share each other’s heavy load.
Together through the valley, we’ll watch the changing sky.
Together through the valley, as Easter’s dawn draws nigh.”

Our opening hymn this week was written by Linnea Good in 1992.  It connects us to the story of Jesus in the wilderness.  As we begin the season of Lent, the lyrics remind us that we will also be traveling the road to Easter during this season.  What would we find if we chose to spend time alone, contemplating our relationship with God?

“Jesus, Tempted in the Desert” (VU #115)

Jesus, tempted in the desert; lonely, hungry, filled with dread:
“Use your power,” the tempter tells him, “Turn these barren rocks to bread!”
“Not alone by bread,” he answers, “Can the human heart be filled.
Only by the Word that calls us is our deepest hunger stilled!”


Jesus, tempted at the temple, high above its ancient wall:
“Throw yourself from lofty turret, angels wait to break your fall!”
Jesus shuns such empty marvels, feats that fickle crowds request:
“God, whose grace protects, reserves us, we must never vainly test.”

Jesus, tempted on the mountain by the lure of vast domain:
“Fall before me! Be my servant! Glory, fame, you’re sure to gain!”
Jesus sees the dazzling vision, turns his eyes another way:
“God alone deserves our homage! God alone will I obey!”

When we face temptations power, lonely, struggling, filled with dread,
Christ, who knew the tempter’s hour, come and be our living bread.
By your grace, protect, preserve us lest we fall, your trust betray.
Yours, above all other voices, be the Word we hear, obey.”

This text about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is from Herman Stuempfle’s The Word Goes Forth (1990.)  It is set to the familiar tune BEACH SPRING (1844) which has been attributed to B.F. White.  While the first verses retell the story of Jesus, the closing verse is a prayer to Jesus to be with us as we face the modern temptations that separate us from God.

Hear the hymn played on the organ at:  https://youtu.be/waGx_-TTJHg

“Psalm 91 – On Eagle’s Wings” (VU #808)

“And I will raise you up on eagles, wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to sine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of my hand,”

You who dwell in the shelter of our God,
Who abide in this shadow for life,
Say to the Lord: “My refuge, my Rock in whom I trust!”

On Eagle's wings

The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear:
Under God’s wings your refuge,
God’s faithfulness your shield.

You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day;
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come.

For to God’s angels is given a command
To guard you in all of your ways;
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

This hymn is the sung text of Psalm 91 and has long been a favorite at WPUC.  Michael Joncas, composer, is an assistant professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul Minnesota.   The Psalm is an assurance to the people of God’s faithfulness through all time and circumstance.  It is interesting to note that in Voices United the words of the chorus are in the first person (quoting God) while in the original the point of view is in the third person (He will raise you up…) until near the end of the Psalm.  Listen to the original version of this song at:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW0jDEM1Qxc

“When We are Tested” (MV #65)

“When we are tested and wrestle alone,
Famished for bread when the world offers stone,
Nourish us, God, by your word and your way,
Food that sustains us by night and by day.

When in the desert we cry for relief,
Pleading for paths marked by certain belief,
Lift us to love you beyond sign and test,
trusting your presence, our only true rest.

When we are tempted to barter our souls,
Trading the truth for the power to control,
Teach us to worship and praise only you,
Seeking your will in the work that we do.

When we have struggled and searched through the night,
Sorting and sifting the wrong from the right,
Saviour, surround us with circles of care,
Angels of healing, of hope, and of prayer.”

This hymn comes to us from Ruth Duck (1996).  It is rooted in the struggles of Jesus in the wilderness before he started his ministry.  This lament asks God to be with us, even in the most extreme of circumstances.

“All the Way My Saviour Leads Me”

“All the way my Savior leads me. What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well. 

All the way my Savior leads me, cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for ev’ry trial, feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter and my soul a-thirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me, lo! a spring of joy I see. 

All the way my Savior leads me.  O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed, immortal, wings its flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:  Jesus led me all the way….”

This words for this week’s anthem were written by Fanny J. Crosby, with music by Robert Lowry.  This choral arrangement is by Camp Kirkland.   The hymn, “All the Way My Savior Leads Me,”  composed after she had received an immediate answer to prayer, attests to the spirit of absolute dependence on God exhibited in the life of Fanny Crosby.   This song of faith encourages us to put our trust in God, both in good times and bad.

Hear the Haven Quartet at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEOtFEs0Jos

Sing along with a piano rendition of the hymn at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXrzFN1TG00

“Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” (VU #541)

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God, all creatures high and low;
Give thanks to God in love made known:
Creator, Word and Spirit, One.  Amen.”

The words for this traditional Doxology were written around 1674 by Thomas Ken, and updated for Voices United.   A Doxology is a short hymn of praise to God, which makes it suitable for our offering response.  The music, OLD 100th, is from the Genevan Psalter (1551).

Here the Doxology sung with original words by Anthem Lights, featuring Selah:

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

“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.  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.

Hear the hymn sung by choirs and congregation at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4n1hGjDDg

“Throughout These Lenten Days and Nights”

“Throughout these Lenten days and nights we turn to walk the inward way,
Where meeting Christ, our guide and light, we live in hope till Easter Day.”    

Our benediction response for the season of Lent will be the first verse of this hymn, found at #108 in Voices United.  The words were written by James Gertmenian and are sung to the tune, WINCHESTER NEW (1690).

To ponder:

Will you dare to go into the wilderness this Lenten season?

Bonus video:

Categories: Notes on the Notes