Sunday, July 13, 2008

Lift Us to High Resolve

The voice of God is calling
Its summons ever clear;
As once God spake in Zion
So now God speaketh here:
“Whom shall I send to succor
My people in their need?
Whom shall I send to loosen
The bonds of shame and greed?”

“I hear my people crying
In suburb and on hill;
No field or mart is silent,
No city street is still.
I see my people falling
In sadness and despair.
Whom shall I send to shatter
The fetters which they bear?”

We heed, O God, thy summons,
And answer: Here are we!
Send us upon thine errand,
Let us thy servants be.
Our strength is dust and ashes,
Our years a passing hour;
But thou canst use our weakness
To magnify thy power.

From ease and plenty save us;
From pride of place absolve;
Purge us of low desire;
Lift us to high resolve;
Take us, and make us holy;
Teach us thy will and way.
Speak, and behold! We answer;
Command, and we obey!

John Haynes Holmes, 1913; alt.
Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906

A twentieth century hymn in both tune and text, this is another of the great social justice hymns of the Church Universal. John Haynes Holmes was a Unitarian minister who spent most of his career in New York City following his installation as minister at the Church of the Messiah (photo below). He was a founder of both the NAACP and the ACLU, to name only two of the significant organizations with which he was involved.

During World War I, he strongly supported pacifism in his sermons and other writings, which brought him into serious conflict with the Unitarian denomination. Several of his other hymns, which were eventually published in a collected edition, reflect this commitment to pacifism and world peace and certainly bear further examination.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

I'm always learning something new from you, C.W.S. I've never seen or heard this hymn before. Thanks for the introduction.