Notes on the Notes – May 4, 2014

This week’s theme: Where is God in the World?

This week’s scriptures: Acts 2:14a, 36-41, Luke 24:13-35

This week’s music:

“As We Walked Home at Close of Day” (VU #184)

“As we walked home at close of day, a stranger joined us on our way.  He heard us speak of one who’d gone, and when we stopped, he carried on.

“Why wander further without light?  Please stay with us this troubled night.  We’ve shared the truth of how we feel and now would like to share a meal.”

We sat to eat our simple spread, then watched the stranger take the bread;  and, as he said the blessing prayer, we knew that someone else was there.

No stranger he; it was our eyes which failed to see, in stranger’s guise, the Lord who, risen from the dead, met us when ready to be fed.

Hallelujah!  As Mary and our sisters said, the Lord is risen from the dead!”

Our gathering song this week is a retelling of the Emmaus story from the Gospel reading.  The text is from a book of Lent, Easter and Pentecost songs called Enemy of Apathy, which is  the second volume of Wild Goose Songs (1988), edited by John L. Bell and Graham Moule of the Iona community.   To learn more about the Iona community, go to:  The tune, ANGELUS, was first published in Heilige Seelen-Lust (1657).  It is attributed to Georg Joseph, a musician who edited the collection.  It was adapted to its present form in the mid-19th century.

“Im Gonna Live So God Can Use Me” (VU #575)

“I’m gonna live so God can use me anywhere, Lord, anytime.”

    (work, pray, sing)

 This traditional African-American spiritual is from the Presbyterian Hymnal (1990).   We will be singing this hymn at the close of our liturgy honoring our Bible Adventures teachers and LST members.

“In Old Galilee, When Sweet Breezes Blew” (VU #354)

This is a contemporary hymn from Japan.  The Japanese words are by Befu Nobuo (1973), with English paraphrase by George Gish, Jr. of Toyko (1989).  The Music is by Shoko Maita (1975).  Both text and tune are from “Sound of the Bamboo” (1990).   Befu Nobuo was born in 1913 in Kochi Prefecture. In 1934 he attended an evangelistic service at Yokohama Shiro Church. He was soon baptized and began working with the church school teachers. In addition, he became a member of the newly-formed Christian Association for Children’s Stories, giving time and effort to writing Christian stories and sermons for children, and composing hymns. The father of four children, Befu was a middle school science teacher, a Sunday School teacher, and as an author of children’s literature he found meaning in writing children’s hymns as a way of conveying truth to the younger generation. Befu said: “In the future I want to continue to write children’s hymns that can be understood, enjoyed, and from which children can grasp God’s grace and love. However, it is only through God’s power and grace that I can hope and trust that my poor, unskilled poetry can be used to nurture the faith of children.” It was out of this earnest desire on the part of Befu-his earnest desire to convey God’s word to children-that “In Old Galilee when Sweet Breezes Blew” was born. Every summer at the St. Mary’s Campsite in Ichinomiya-machi, a summer retreat was held for middle and senior high school students in Chiba Prefecture, in which Befu participated as a leader. The theme of the 1973 summer retreat was “The Bible.” On the last day of the retreat, each of the participants wrote their impressions of what they had experienced. Befu sat down at a slightly elevated area beside a lake where there was a pleasant breeze. He thought of the middle and senior high school students, and prayed that he might be able to convey the blessings of the Bible to the students. There was a cool breeze, and on the highest point of the campsite was a replica of the crucifixion…

“In old Galilee, when sweet breezes blew o’er the lake, Jesus spoke to crowds when they came to hear, those words of grace that gave them promise; oh speak to me now, and let me hear those words of grace.

On that stormy day, when waves billowed high on the lake, his disciples feared ’til he spoke to them, those words of power that gave them courage; oh speak to me now, and let me hear those words of power.

On that cross he hung, to die for the sins of the world, from Golgotha’s shame he called out in pain, those saving words of hope to sinners;  oh speak to me know, and let me hear those saving words.

On that eventide tow friends passing by Emmaus, recognized him not ’til he spoke again those words of life to his disciples; oh speak to me now, and let me hear those words of life.”

This earnest prayer, which 60-year-old Befu was striving to convey to teenagers, is now loved and sung by many people as “my own prayer,” transcending generations, denominations, and nationalities. (Source:  The United Church of Christ in Japan newsletter – Oct. 22, 2008)

“We Have Seen the Risen Lord”

“In the darkness, in the quiet, we had come to anoint Him; heavy hearted, drenched in sorrow, how could we live without Him?  Suddenly we saw there an angel all in white, then we knew that He had risen. 

We have seen the risen Lord, we have heard His gentle voice saying, “Be not afraid.”   We have felt His conquering power, known the glory of this hour, we have seen the risen Lord.

We were walking to Emmaus, we were speaking about Him; things had happened, we were helpless, there was no hope without Him.  Then another joined us, and strangely warmed our hearts,  and we knew that He had risen.

We were fishing, catching nothing, wondering what to do without Him.  In the misty light of morning, our lives were empty without Him.  Then a man called to us, standing on the shore, and we knew that He had risen.”

This week’s anthem was written by Stan Pethel in 1995.  The post-Easter Sundays emphasize the biblical stories of the resurrected Jesus, as he appeared to the women at the tomb, to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and again while fishing.  Through the contrasting sections, Pethel demonstrates both the despair and hope of Jesus’ followers in the time following Easter, always concluding with the powerful refrain: “we have seen the risen Lord, we have heard his gentle voice saying, ‘be not afraid.'”

“As Comes the Breath of Spring” (VU #373)

“As comes the breath of spring with light and mirth and song, so does your Spirit bring new days brave, fee, and strong.  You come with thrill of life to chase hence winter’s breath, to hush to peace the strife of sin that ends in death.

You come like dawning day with flaming truth and love, to chase all glooms away, to brace our wills to prove how wise, how good to choose the truth and its brave fight, to prize it, win or lose, and live on your delight.

You come like songs at morn that fill the earth with joy, till we, in Christ newborn, new strength in praise employ.  You come to rouse the heart from drifting to despair, through high hopes to impart life with an ampler air.

You breathe and there is health; you move and there is power; you whisper, there is wealth of love, your richest dower.  Your presence is to us like summer in the soul; your joy shines forth and then life blossoms to its goal.”

The text of this hymn was written in 1929 by David Lakie Ritchie, Dean of United Theological College in Montreal, for The Hymnary (1930), the first hymn book of the United Church of Canada.  The tune, DENBY,  was first published in England in the Methodist Hymn Book (1904).

Hear the hymn at:


Categories: Music Programs, Notes on the Notes, Sunday Bulletin and Announcements, Worship
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