Monday, January 19, 2009

Suddenly a Voice Divine

One of yesterday's lessons from the Revised Common Lectionary was 1 Samuel 3:1-20, the story of God calling young Samuel in the temple. Unfortunately, this appropriate hymn for the day is one of those that no longer appears in most hymnals.

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark;
The lamp was burning dim
Before the sacred ark;
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild,
The priest of Israel, slept;
His watch the temple child,
The little Levite, kept;
And what from Eli’s sense was sealed
Our God to Hannah’s son revealed.

O give me Samuel’s ear,
The open ear, O God,
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of thy Word,
Like him to answer at thy call,
And to obey thee first of all.

O give me Samuel’s heart,
A lowly heart, that waits
Where in thy house thou art,
Or watches at thy gates;
By day and night, a heart that still
Moves at the breathing of thy will.

O give me Samuel’s mind,
A sweet unmurm’ring faith,
Obedient and resigned
To thee in life and death,
That I may read with childlike eyes
Truths that are hidden from the wise.

James Drummond Burns, 1857; alt.
Tune: SAMUEL (H.M.)
Arthur Sullivan, 1874

Though this could have been a hymn for yesterday, it's also somewhat appropriate for today, which commemorates someone else who heard God's call.

James Drummond Burns was a Scottish clergyman and hymnwriter, and we've encountered Sir Arthur Sullivan a nymber of times before.

The painting above, part of Samuel relating to Eli the judgments upon Eli's house, is by John Singleton Copley, a well-known American artist of the colonial period.


Leland Bryant Ross said...

Good choice. That hymn only occurs in one of my indexed hymnals, the New Baptist Praise Book of 1917. We read that text yesterday (though the sermon played mainly off the call of Nathaniel, and in the evening we did the call of Gideon by way of contrast) and it would have been nice to sing this at PSST.

What other hymns do you like for MLK Day? I'm off to our Region's MLK service in a bit here, and will note the music used. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" I think I can safely predict.

Leland aka Haruo

C.W.S. said...

Lift every voice is a natural choice, along with the Rev. Dr.'s favorite, Precious Lord, take my hand.

I think We shall overcome is still relevant -- there will always be things that we all need to overcome. One other spiritual that should be more known is Gonna sit at the welcome table.

Leland Bryant Ross said...

I like your suggestions. As it transpired, the congregational songs were "Lift every voice", "When we all get to heaven" and "We've come this far by faith". There was also a choral-with-solo rendition of "O happy day!" that the congregation was encouraged to join in on, and there was a fair amount of audience participation in the other choral number, too ("Hosanna"), and in the solo rendition of "A change is gonna' come". You can see the program bulletin in this thread at

Incidentally, I should mention (on a completely different topic) that I have posted the "comprehensive hymnal index" spreadsheet that I frequently refer to in my comments here, in OpenOffice *.ods format, here on my church's website. This is a work in daily progress, so the version I posted yesterday is already incomplete, but it may be useful to the hymnologically inclined. A list of the hymnals entirely or substantially indexed is here.

Leland aka Haruo