Category Archives: Hymns

Calléd by his name

Why are the stars so multi-hued,
In blacks and browns and white?
Why is the world so richly round,
And the dark sky pierced with light?
Why is the earth of deepest red
And the bowl of whittled wood?
And why is a baby cradled there,
Encased in a golden hood?

There’s food for all within the bowl,
Gleaned from the costliest soil;
And as the poor of the world are fed
The earth rolls round aright;
With tender care and honest toil,
Here’s fodder for body and soul;
The stars with justice are crowned,
And the baby laughs with delight.

But who is the babe so snugly bound?
Whence came he, and what’s his name?
Like us, he calls himself a lamb,
To share our pastures he came.
One of our flock and born in our stall,
With his crook to guide us anew,
And arms flung wide to caress us,
He now is the shepherd of all.

Amen, little lamb, God bless you.
Amen, Little Lamb, God bless us.

(With thanks to Traidcraft (www.charity-christmascards.org.uk) for permission to use the illustration.)

When I’m flat on my back

When I’m flat on my back to the tune ‘The road to Dundee’ CH4: No. 697

When I’m flat on my back and I stare at the heavens,
The galaxies curving beyond human ken,
And calculate epochs in millions of aeons
I ponder my infinite Maker again.

When I study the head of a dahlia or daisy,
The delicate scent of the sweet columbine;
Their patterns and colours and textures persuade me
They’re faithfully coined to my Maker’s design.

When a ewe stands her ground as I walk through her pasture,
Or swans gently safeguard their frolicking young;
With ducklings and tadpoles and monkeys and pandas,
I laugh at my Maker’s absurd sense of fun.

Thus dappled and mottled and speckled and spotted,
Circles and angles and lines intertwined;
Divergence and difference, distinction and contrast –
My Maker cannot be described or confined.

So Dawkins and Hawkins and Harris can hang out –
I’ll walk where the saints and the psalmists have trod:
There’s purpose and wonder and form in creation –
Revealing the mind of ingenious God!

A hymn of contemporary doubt!

Now I believe in virgin births and angels from on high,
And sleepy sheep and shining stars above a Christmas sky;
And I believe in mystic men
With knowledge of the zodiac –
But only with my fingers crossed
Behind my doubtful back!

And I believe the miracles performed in days of yore,
With walking dead and thousands fed beside a sandy shore;
And I believe the worthy saints
Throughout the Christian almanac –
But only with my fingers crossed
Behind my doubtful back!

And I believe the world was made in seven days and nights;
And I believe that hell is hot and heaven above the heights;
And I believe that Satan is
A hornéd egomaniac –
But only with my fingers crossed
Behind my doubtful back!

And I believe the Christian creeds drawn up so long ago;
And I believe the Church of God knows all there is to know;
And I believe that proof resides
In hoary hymns and Bible black –
But only with my fingers crossed
Behind my doubtful back!

But I believe Creator God has set the world ablaze,
That Jesus is the guide-book and the benchmark of my ways;
And I believe that love prevails
Where hate and fear and envy fails –
And with my head and hands held high
I’ll trust them all my days.

Sung to the tune ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’ or CH4 771

Here, Lord, we stand

After Gerard Manley Hopkins
Sung to the tune ‘Ellers’

Here, Lord, we stand all-hallowed and benign;
Cosied by care, secure that nothing may
Disturb our sheltered sleep, while undivine
Frightful a nightfall folds a rueful day.

Here, Lord, we stand full-knowledged and aware;
Watchfully heedless of sorrow and dismay;
Dull to the cries of anguish and despair,
While frightful a nightfall folds a rueful day.

Here Lord we stand, derisory, inept
Experts in vacillation and delay;
Hassle and harass and tussle-free adept,
While frightful a nightfall folds a rueful day.

Forgive us, Lord, our mindless unresolve
Our wilful failure to follow and obey –
‘To love our neighbour as we love ourselves’
As frightful a nightfall folds a rueful day.

Task us, O Lord, with ceaseless, astute toil;
Transform our self-absorbèd lives we pray;
Dare us to selfless living, lest for aye
Frightful a nightfall folds a rueful day.

For this time of celebration

A hymn for a birthday
Sung to the tune ‘East Acklam

1. For this time of celebration
Thanks be to God;
For the years of affirmation,
Thanks be to God.
For the faith which still maintains us,
For the hope which yet sustains us,
As the love of Christ constrains us,
Thanks be to God.

2. For the eagerness of childhood,
Thanks be to God;
Blossoming to bright adulthood,
Thanks be to God.
Youthful days of exploration,
Student years of aspiration,
Grasping life with glad elation,
Thanks be to God

3. For our growing self-assurance,
Thanks be to God;
Challenge, tears, and perseverance;
Thanks be to God.
For our ardent love of learning,
Knowledge, skill and mind’s discerning,
Truth perceiving, wisdom yearning,
Thanks be to God.

4. For our family and kinship,
Thanks be to God.
For the joys of human friendship,
Thanks be to God.
Sunlit days of rest and leisure,
Rich with shared delight and pleasure,
Memories to hold and treasure,
Thanks be to God.

5. For the church’s inspiration
Thanks be to God;
Source of light and faith’s foundation,
Thanks be to God.
For its ceaseless round of caring;
Doubt, despair and heartache sharing;
Still for truth and right declaring;
Thanks be to God.

6. For this life of love and laughter,
Thanks be to God;
For the gift of life hereafter,
Thanks be to God.
For our certain faith in sorrow,
Hope assured beyond the rainbow,
Promising another morrow,
Thanks be to God!

Let us run the race before us

A hymn for the Commonwealth Games

Sung to the tune: Lewis Folk Melody

Let us run the race before us
With a glad and grateful heart;
Grasping life in all its fullness,
Playing our distinctive part
In God’s universal purpose
For us all in every place:
Keen to be the best we can be,
Daily growing through God’s grace.

Let us run our race with courage,
Never shirking what is right;
Squarely facing up to duty,
Saying ‘yes’ with quick delight.
Meeting pain and hardship bravely,
Never skirting round a test;
Seeking that which makes us stronger,
Promising to do our best.

Let us run our race with laughter
Cheerfully embracing change;
Welcoming the unexpected,
Relishing the odd and strange.
Savouring the complications,
Undeterred by nameless threats,
Venturing beyond the margins,
Never burdened by regrets.

Let us run our race with others,
Sharing expertise and skill;
Keeping pace with those beside us,
Hand-in-hand through good and ill;
Not comparing nor competing,
Glad when others take the lead;
Passing on the baton deftly,
So that all who run succeed.

Let us run as Jesus taught us,
Through his life in word and deed;
Learning, loving and forgiving,
Serving all who are in need.
Knowing he will triumph with us;
Trusting that the race is won;
Hearing, as we reach our ending,
His applauding words ‘Well done’!

Paradise Lost

With apologies to John Milton
Sung to the tune ‘Sursum Corda’.

You gave us Paradise and we have marred,
Through greed and conquest, hate and human pride,
Creation’s glorious majesty, but yet
The world is all before us: Be our Guide!

You gave us Paradise and we have erred:
Misused, abused, exploited, and decried
The simple joys of tenderness and love:
The world still grieves before us: Be our Guide!

You gave us Paradise and we have warred:
Disputed, killed, divided and denied
Asylum for the weary refugee:
The world endures before us: Be our Guide!

You gave us Paradise, and we have failed
To its share it’s wealth and plenty and provide
For all its peoples, races, creeds, and skills:
The world remains before us: Be our Guide!

You gave us Paradise and we have sinned:
In each new age must Christ be crucified?
Must evil still be challenged, right restored?
The world still aches before us: Be our Guide!

You gave us Paradise and each new day
Brings hope renewed, faith strengthened for the way;
And through your love our lives are glorified –
The world is all before us: Be our Guide!

Out on the hills with God

To the tune ‘Kelvingrove’.

God, we thank you that you made
This world for us to share;
That together we explore
Your hills and glens so fair;
So we bring our grateful praise
As our spirits lift anew,
At the memory of days
Out on the hills with you.

For the curlew’s piping call
Above the moorland trail;
For the tumbling peaty falls
Along the primrose dale;
For the curl of louring clouds,
Melding with the distant view,
As the mountain tops unfold,
Out on the hills with you.

For the myriad stars at night,
The March hare’s darting chase;
For the soaring gull’s delight,
The dainty roe deer’s grace;
For the hoar frost on the web,
And for flowers of every hue
Hidden deep among the rocks
Out on the hills with you.

For the laughter of our friends
To shorten every mile;
For the ghillie’s guiding word
The shepherd’s ‘welcome’ smile.
For the step across the burn,
And the hand to pull us through;
For the circle of concern
Out on the hills with you.

As we wander through your world
At every turn we find
Your love and care unfurled,
The imprint of your mind;
As the years roll sweetly by,
Still enticed by pastures new,
We will gladly walk for aye
Out on the hills with you.