The walls of gold entomb us!

The lyrics of G. K. Chesterton are set to the Welsh tune Llangloffan in this YouTube from Lincoln, Nebraska. God help us all in the first year of A.T. 1 (Anno Trump) when we are face with the threat that “the walls of gold [will] entomb us”.

O God of Earth and Altar

While the world holds its breath after the attacks in Paris, we’ve searched for hymns that express in music a word worth hearing.

“O God of Earth and Altar” expresses a sense of prayerful resilience and supplication.The lyrics, written by G.K. Chesterton in 1906, were revised, in part, by Jane Parker Huber to address global terrorism:

From all that terror teaches, From lies of pen and voice, From all the easy speeches That make our hearts rejoice, From sale and profanation of honor and the sword, from sleep and from damnation, deliver us, good Lord.”

Already U.S. governors have made “easy speeches” about not accepting any Syrian refugees in their states, although it is not within their jurisdiction to decide. And, while we pray, the arms industry is preying on war’s alarms to increase production,  sales and profits in the name of our safety and security.

Here’s “O God of Earth and Altar” sung to Chesterton’s original lyrics.

Prayers for the people of Moore, Oklahoma

Social reformers Frank Mason North in foreground, Walter Rauschenbusch behind.

Social reformers Frank Mason North in foreground, Walter Rauschenbusch behind.

There are no original words today. Tears. Sighs. Stunned silence.

But an old prayer for Passion Sunday from the Riverside Church in New York City came to mind. It was the prayer of The Rev’d Dr. Ernest (“Ernie”) Campbell for the workers most of us take for granted daily in good times. Today it applies to all the first responders who labor to care for the people of Moore.

Bless with Thy power and presence, gracious God, those who do the menial chores and thankless tasks behind our city’s bright façade:
those who rise early to bring fresh food and produce from the marketplace;
those who clean our halls and offices through the night;
those who work our switchboards and see that messages get through;
those who load and unload trucks;
those who stock the shelves and work the back rooms of our stores;
those who fire boilers and provide maintenance in the heat and noise of basements that we seldom visit;
those who clean our windows and mend our masonry and keep our flagpoles in repair;
those who set tables, bus dishes, and work in our many kitchens.

In following our several callings, make us aware of what we owe to unnamed thousands whose work is indispensable to our well-being. And give them to know, O God, that in Thy sight, if not in ours, the least of the earth are very big indeed.

– Ernest Campbell (Click HERE for Ernest Campbell’s obituary.)

The hymn “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life” (music by Ludwig von Beethoven; lyrics by Frank Mason North, pictured above) meant so much to him that he used it for the title of one of his three books. Below are the lyrics. Click HERE for an organist’s rendition of “Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life”.

Where cross the crowded ways of life,
Where sound the cries of race and clan
Above the noise of selfish strife,
We hear your voice, O Son of man.

In haunts of wretchedness and need,
On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
From paths where hide the lures of greed,
We catch the vision of Your tears.

From tender childhood’s helplessness,
From woman’s grief, man’s burdened toil,
From famished souls, from sorrow’s stress,
Your heart has never known recoil.

The cup of water given for You,
Still holds the freshness of Your grace;
Yet long these multitudes to view
The sweet compassion of Your face.

O Master, from the mountainside
Make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
Among these restless throngs abide;
O tread the city’s streets again.

Till all the world shall learn Your love
And follow where Your feet have trod,
Till, glorious from Your Heaven above,
Shall come the city of our God!

The clouds ye so much dread

The line of Tuesday’s reflection on a nearly disastrous Martin Luther King Day celebration fell on the ears of a parishioner in hospice care yesterday during a pastoral visit. Lorraine is sitting in her chair. She can no longer see.  But she can hear when the visitor speaks clearly with some volume, and she is fully alert and ready for more than entertainment or platitudes. The text was written by English poet and hymn-writer William Cowper in 1774. They give voice to faith’s trust in providence…without denying the clouds.

“Wonderful,” she said with a smile at the end of the reading. “I really like that.” Turn the volume up and see what you feel and think.