© St Ninians Episcopal Church, Glasgow which is a charity registered under no.SC010966
Rector writes A recent article in a magazine caught my eye which was entitled “Singing for the Soul: The Joy of Singing Together”. It seemed a happy coincidence that it was just a couple of weeks ago that I had announced the winner of the competition to write the lyrics of a hymn suitable for Lent. I shall return to that. In the meantime, I want to quote two extracts from the article. The first is this: “Congregational singing has the power to create community, form and transform the heart and mind, and transport a person completely into a spiritual dimension unlike any other”. The second is this: “community has always been something that human beings have longed for, we are created to live in community and we need to find places to meet and share our lives with others”. Both quotes sum up for me what is precious about the role of music in the liturgy. At best, music is the binding agent that assists the Holy Spirit in turning a group of very different people, who meet to worship, into a community. Music in church should never be about individual egos nor a docile congregation listening to what amounts to a concert delivered by the choir. This is our music and David S. and I have worked very hard over the years to bring as much variety of styles to the hymn singing and settings for the Eucharist that are practical in our particular circumstances. It was in that spirit we decided to invite you to write the words for a new Lent hymn. As you know, David Pritchard submitted his entry entitled “Save Us”. David S. has composed a very fitting setting for it and in due course you will sing it. I wanted you at this stage to familiarise yourselves with the lyrics to better appreciate the skill of David P. David has chosen a very classic Lenten theme to anchor the verses: the temptation of Jesus in the desert. However, instead of just focussing on what Jesus may have suffered, David has very movingly linked Jesus’ suffering with our very human struggles. Each verse deals with a different aspect of our human condition; thus, verse 1 deals with hunger (literal and spiritual) and pain. Verse 2 tackles perverted political power and pomp; and, verse 3 tackles the vexed issue of false versions of religious experience. Each verse is separated by a refrain but, unusually and brilliantly, each refrain is subtly different from the one preceding it. Here is the hymn in its entirety – Save us when our hunger wracks us, When our pain is hard to bear, When we cannot see beyond them, Nourish us to praise and care. Jesus, fasting in the desert, share your strength and meet us there. Save us when the earthly rulers Offer us authority,Whisper “You could end injustice If you’d only worship me.” Jesus, tempted in the desert, share your strength and set us free. Save us when religion fools us, Teaches us contempt for all, Raises us in pride to power, Bids us leap – and lets us fall. Jesus, humble in the desert, share your strength and hear our call. David S. has composed a memorable setting with an arresting simplicity that does not obscure the strength and power of the lyrics but serves to partner them in the best traditions of hymn composing. It also has the happy advantage of being very singable! I am very sure the hymn will be another uplifting addition to our growing list of hymns which enhance our worship. Both Davids deserve our praise and thanks for their gifts to our community. Lent will soon be with us and this new hymn can only serve to enhance our spiritual experience of the season. The Rector