Sunday, July 30, 2017

Hymns That Move Me (Week 2)

This is the second in my series looking at thirty amazing hymns and songs of the Christian faith. I made three lists, one of my top 10 from the Moravian Church's tradition, one of my top 10 of the great classic hymns, and a top 10 of more "Gospel-type" hymns and songs. I am doing it alphabetically to be fair to all the songs. I hope you are both inspired by these words and learn a little about my own denomination's rich musical heritage.

Moravian Hymns
Christian Hearts in Love United-Nicholas von Zinzendorf (1723).
Zinzendorf was the patron of the Moravian refugees who left Bohemia and Moravia and settled in Germany. He gave them land to build their village and, as a Pietist himself, became their spiritual leader. One of his early hymns described his vision of what a Christian community should be. The title in the traditional translation describes it well.

1. Christian hearts in love united,
Seek alone in Jesus rest....

3. Grant, Lord, that with Thy direction,
"Love each other," we comply,
Aiming with unfeigned affection
Thy love to exemplify;
Let our mutual love be glowing,
Thus will all men plainly see,
That we, as on one stem growing,
Living branches are in Thee.

An alternative translation is just as descriptive:

1. Hearts with loving heart united
Met to know God's holy will....

3. Since, O Lord, you have demanded
that our lives your love should show
so we wait to be commanded
forth into your world to go.
Kindle in us love's compassion
so that ev'ryone may see
in our faith and hope the promise
of a new humanity.

Great Hymns of the Church
Be Thou My Vision- Dallan Forgaill, Ireland (6th Century)
According to Wikipedia the hymn is based on an Old Irish text, "Rop tú mo Baile" and is often attributed to Saint Dallán Forgaill in the 6th century. The text had been a part of Irish monastic tradition for centuries before its setting to music. The prayer belongs to a type known as a lorica, a prayer for protection.

It was translated from Old Irish into English by Mary Elizabeth Byrne, M.A., in Ériu (the journal of the School of Irish Learning), in 1905. The English text was first versified by Eleanor Hull, in 1912, and is now the most common text used.

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise;
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art.

The mystic and monastic language and tradition are heard clearly down to the last lines, an expression of the union into eternal life.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Gospel-type Hymns and Songs
Beneath the Cross of Jesus- Elizabeth C. Clephane (1868)
Elizabeth lived in Scot­land, about 30 miles south­east of Ed­in­burgh. She spent most of her mon­ey on char­it­a­ble caus­es, and was known lo­cal­ly as “The Sun­beam.” This hymn was written when she was 38 years old and only months away from her own death. The first publisher two years later said:
These lines ex­press the ex­per­i­enc­es, the hopes and the long­ings of a young Christ­ian late­ly re­leased. Writ­ten on the ve­ry edge of life, with the bet­ter land ful­ly in view of faith, they seem to us foot­steps print­ed on the sands of time, where these sands touch the ocean of Etern­i­ty. (-Link)
The great hymns and songs of the faith have a way of expressing deep personal emotions that are common to so many of us.

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

First line below table

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