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Notes on the Notes – Sept. 30, 2012

Great Shepherd of Your People (VU 398) – The words for this hymn were written by John Newton in 1769.   Newton was born in July, 1725.  His mother, a devotedly pious woman, died when he was only seven years of age.  He was only formally “schooled” from the ages of 8 to 10.  Newton was engaged in the African slave trade for several years.  He became an infidel (literally “one without faith”), but was converted in a storm at sea while returning from Africa.  He became a minister in the Established Church in 1758 and was ordained in 1764.  Newton also wrote the hymns “Amazing Grace” (VU 266) and “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds” (VU 344).

What a Friend We Have in Jesus (VU 664) – The words for this hymn were originally written by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855 as a poem to comfort his ill mother who was living in Ireland while he was in Canada.  He could not return to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed this poem.   Years later, one of Joseph’s friends discovered his poems and they were published in a book called Hymns and Other verses.”  The tune to the hymn was composed by Charles Crozat Converse in 1868.

Voices United does not contain the final verse of Scriven’s poem:

Blessed Saviour, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear

May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.

Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer

Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Give to Us Laughter (VU 624) – This hymn was a collaborative effort by Walter Farquharson (words) and Ron Klusmeier (music) in 1974.  Composer Ron Klusmeier says “The emotions which bring us laughter and tears are closely linked. ‘Give to Us Laughter’ is frequently sung at funerals and memorial services as well as at times of joy.”    The Very Rev. Walter Farquharson was elected Moderator of The United Church of Canada in 1990.  He is the author of hundreds of hymn texts and has contributed 13 selections to Voices United.   After 40 years of travelling across Canada offering concerts, workshops and worship leadership, Ron Klusmeier is retiring from touring.  He will be in Winnipeg at Transcona Memorial United on Oct. 22 @ 7:30 p.m.  and at Charleswood United on Oct. 23 @ 7:30 p.m.  Don’t miss the final opportuity to hear Ron play and lead his own music, hear his “stories from the journey”, and hum-along with solo piano renditions of some of his favourite songs!


The Anthem – Pray for the Peope – This soulful ballad by Pepper Choplin calls us to lift each other up as we pray for the person on our right and our left.  The text says it all:  “They may seem strong, but we don’t know all of the struggles and the burdens they hold.  We pray, Lord, we pray, give them power to face the day.”


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