Sunday, October 5, 2008

Joined With All the Glad and Good

O thou whose gracious presence shone,
A light to bless all humankind,
To thee we fondly turn again
As to a friend that we have known.

Thy grace and truth, thy life that shed
Undying radiance through all time,
Thy tender love, thy faith steadfast,
Remembering these, we break the bread.

And lo! again we seem to hear
Thy blessing on the loaf and cup,
The presence that was given then
Again to loving hearts brought near.

Our humble lives, thus touching thine,
Are joined with all the glad and good,
In truer, nobler unity
That lifts the world to realms divine.

Marion Franklin Ham, 1912; alt.
Tune: BROMLEY (L.M.)
Jeremiah Clarke, 1700

Marion Franklin Ham (1867 - 1956) was a Unitarian minister who served churches from Texas to Massachusetts. He shares a February 18 birthday with a more prominent hymnwriter, Martin Luther.

It may seem unusual for a communion hymn to come from a Unitarian origin, but most Unitarian and Universalist hymnals of the past did contain a section of such hymns. Even today the rite is
still practiced in some UU churches, though it's controversial in many others.

1 comment:

Leland Bryant Ross said...

You write about UU hymnals "of the past", yet the current UU hymnal Singing the Living Tradition has a 3-hymn section on "Communion" (as distinct from "Water Ceremony" and "Flower Communion"): "This Do in Memory of Me", "Let Us Break Bread Together" and "We're Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table", as well as 11 other hymns listed under "Communion" in the Topical Index. Incidentally, the first of the three is a recent text (the author was born in 1936 according to the UU hymnal companion) yet SLT gives no indication of copyright status nor of UU authorship. It's a good text (set there to St. Botolph—a Barnby tune, I think). If it's in the Public Domain, it's a find.

Leland aka Haruo