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Notes on the Notes – September 21, 2014

This week’s scripture:  Matthew 20:1-16

This week’s theme: “If I am first, who is last?”

This week’s music:

“Mother Earth, Our Mother Birthing” (More Voices #39) – This new hymn celebrates the four traditional elements of creation and the interconnectness of the Creation through time and place.   The words were written by Norman Habel in 1999.  Neil Weisensel composed the tune in 2006.  In introducing the song, Habel says,”The occasion for this song was the 40th anniversary of the ordination of Rev. John Sabel, who is a poet and a disciple of St. Francis of Assisi.  The poem honours St Francis by acclaiming Earth, Air, Water and Fire as our kin, components we have in common with planet Earth and with Jesus of Nazareth.

“Mother Earth, our Mother birthing ev’ry creature from the ground.  Jesus too was flesh and breathing, kin to all that’s green and brown.

Sister Air, our Sister lifting ev’ry creature born with wings;  Jesus shared the breath of forests, breath that makes our spirits sing.

Brother Water, Brother pulsing deep through ev’ry vein and sea, Jesus drank the very raindrops for our wine and in our tea.

Father Fire, our Father burning with the sacred urge to live.  Jesus’ death completes the cycle, bringing life beyond the grave.

Celebrate with all creation:  God has formed the web of life.”

“Praise to God, Immortal Praise” (Voices United #521)

“Praise to God, immortal praise, for the love that crowns our days;  bounteous source of every joy, let your praise our tongues employ:

for the blessings of the fields, for the stores the garden yields, flocks that whiten all the plain, yellow sheaves of ripened grain;

all that spring with bounteous hand scatters o’er the smiling land, all that liberal autumn pours from its rich o’erflowing stores.

These to you, O God, we owe, source from which all blessing flow; and for these our souls shall raise grateful vows and solemn praise.

The words for this hymn, with their focus on thanks for the bounty of the land, were published in William Enfield’s Hymns for Public Worship in 1772.  The author was Anna Laetitia Barbauld, a pupil of Philip Doddridge, the English Nonconformist leader, educator, and hymnwriter.  The hymn tune is commonly associated in another metre with the Christmas hymn “The Friendly Beasts,” which dates back to the 12th century.   It was arranged by Richard Redhead.

“A Little Child the Saviour Came” (VU #445)

“A little child the Saviour came, the mighty God was still his name, and angels worshipped as he lay the helpless infant of a day.

He who, a little child, began the life divine to show God’s plan proclaims from heaven the message free, ‘Let little children come to me.’

We bring them now, and in your name the saving love of Christ proclaim.  Through living water, grace endow; baptize them with your Spirit now.

O God, who by an infant’s tongue can hear your perfect glory sung, may these with all the heavenly throng, praise you:  Creator, Spirit, Son.”

This hymn was written by William Robertson, a 19th-century minister in the Church of Scotland with a keen interest in hymnody and Scottish psalmody.  It was first published in the Church of Scotland’s Hymns for Public Worship in 1861.  The tune, PUER NOBIS NASCITUR, is from a 15th-century Trier manuscript.  Hear the song played on bowed and mountain dulcimer at www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV7yP5CDvNU

“Open My Eyes” –  Originally written in Spanish by Jesse Manibusan and Rudino Zaragora in 1957, the song was translated and published in English in 1988.  The text is based on Mark 8:22-25 and Psalm 51.  The fourth verse, with a new melody, was added in 1970.

“Open my eyes, Lord.  Help me to see your face. 

Open my ears, Lord.  Help me to hear your voice. 

Open my heart, Lord.  Help me to love like you.

And the first shall be last, and our eyes are opened and we’ll hear like never before.  And we’ll speak in new ways, and we’ll see God’s face in places we’ve never known.

See the song sung by Jesse Manibusan at  www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbihOyKIvi8

“I Saw the Rich Ones”

“I saw the rich ones, I saw what they gave; the widow who offered two pennies she’d saved;  and I saw she was smiling and I knew she was glad;  and I wondered because she gave all that she had…

But with God the world is turned upside down; the poor are embraced and the lost they are found.  Let’s work for a world where all people are free; where it’s good to feel good about God loving you and me.

I saw Zacheus, a sinner that said, but to his house I saw Jesus go to break bread; and I knew something special had happened that day when Zacheus gave half of his riches away…

The men in the vineyards were grumbling one day;  I knew they weren’t happy with what they’d been paid;  for the ones who came later were paid just the same as the workers who greeted the dawn when they came… “

This week’s anthem is the modern hymn written by Pat Mayberry in 2000.  It references three gospel stories where we see God turning the world “upside down.”

“May the God of Hope Go with Us” (VU #424) – 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.  Verse 2 is by Fred Kaan, a hymn writer and a leader in ecumenical church development.  The tune is an Argentine folk melody chosen by Alvin Schutmaat for his text.

“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.

May the God of healing free the earth from fear, freeing us for peace, both treasured and pursued.  May the God of love keep our commitment clear to a world restored, to human life renewed.”

To hear the melody played on handbells, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfcqaufyGnE





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