Sunday, September 11, 2016

One Encircling Providence

In many churches, today marks a re-gathering of the community, returning from summer to a new program year for the church, even perhaps a rededication to the mission.  Seems like a good occasion for a "re-run," a hymn about our communities of faith and what we find in them.

O Light, from age to age the same,
Forever living Word,
Here have we felt thy kindling flame,
Thy voice within have heard.
Here holy thought and hymn and prayer
Have winged the Spirit’s powers,
And made these walls divinely fair,
Thy temple, God, and ours.

What visions rise above the years,
What tender memories throng
To fill the eye with happy tears,
The heart with grateful song!
Then vanish mists of time and sense,
They come, the loved of yore,
And one encircling Providence
Holds all forevermore.

O not in vain their toil who wrought
To build faith’s freer shrine;
Nor theirs whose steadfast love and thought
Have watched the fire divine.
Burn, holy Fire, and shine more wide!
While systems rise and fall,
Faith, hope, and charity abide,
The heart and soul of all.

Frederick Lucian Hosmer, 1890; alt.
Tune: ST. MATTHEW (C.M.D.)
William Croft, 1708

You can read more about this hymn and its author from October 16, 2008

Today is also the fifteenth anniversary of the largest terrorist attack on the United States, known simply by the date: September 11.  Many hymn texts have been written in response, and several have been gathered by the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, which you can request through the Hymns in Time of Crisis page of their website (scroll down to Violence: Acts of Terrorism, Overcoming Despair).  More readily available online are three hymn texts on the topic (linked here) written by Presbyterian pastor Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, whose ministry in providing comforting hymns for difficult times we have covered before.

Seven Years Ago: Harry Thacker Burleigh

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