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.