Tag Archives: Presbyterian Church

Getting Your Gulls In A Row: 4 Steps to Eternal Life


So, I’ve had this picture and title, “Getting Your Gulls In A Row,” sitting in a draft post for a couple of months now but it just didn’t go any further.  I’m trusting that inspiration is going to come to me as I type.

You will be familiar with the expression, “get your ducks in a row” for the idea of getting your thoughts straight (in a row) and all the necessary tools and raw materials (the ducks) to get a project underway and all the way to completion.

Across the hall from me at the moment there is a group of young people meeting with the minister with a view to becoming communicant members of the congregation.  In our church we call making this commitment Confirmation, in the Baptist congregations it would be Baptism.  Our kids were baptised as children and parents made the Christian commitment on their behalf, but now we are looking at helping them to understand about our faith and our denomination so that they can make that same covenant with God of their own volition.

On the drive out to the church this morning I was thinking about the common type of article which draws people in with titles that begin with things like, “ten easy steps…”  In the context of getting gulls in a row, and confirmation classes I could simplify the process of attaining eternal life as follows:

  1. Believe

  2. Question

  3. Believe anyway

  4. Repeat as necessary

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Hymn 64


Another in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #64

Be still and know that I am God

BE STILL AND KNOW
Words: anonymous
Music: anonymous
 
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know that I am God.

I am the Lord that healeth thee.
I am the Lord that healeth thee.
I am the Lord that healeth thee.

In thee, O Lord, I put my trust.
In thee, O Lord, I put my trust.
In thee, O Lord, I put my trust. 

I like this well-known hymn despite its repetitive lyrics.  It is in the repetition that one is able to rest and, be still.

Similar to the repetition in the lyrics the melody has a simple pattern with a rising line between two falling lines.  The triple rhythm has a soothing almost rocking feel which adds to the stillness even more.


Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Hymn 61


Another in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #61

Oh come and sing unto the Lord

Psalm 95
Irish
Paraphrase,  Psalter 1912
Music: A Collection of Hymns and Sacred Poems, 1749
 
Oh come and sing unto the Lord;
to God our voices raise.
O Rock of  our salvation hear
our joyful noise of praise!

Before God’s presence let us come
with praise and thankful voice;
let us sing psalms to God with grace,
with grateful hearts rejoice.

Our God is great and reigns supreme
above all power and might;
God’s hand still holds the depths of earth,
the mountains’ breadth and height.

The sea belongs to God alone
who made both calm and storm,
and from the Maker’s mighty hand
the dry land took its form.

Oh come and let us worship God
as to our knees we fall;
we are God’s people; God is Lord,
the Maker of us all.

This paraphrase flows well and uses language which will be simple even for children.  Good to use when Psalm 95 comes up in the lectionary, this is also good to use any time creation or praise in general are a Sunday theme.

Irish is a good melody with two distinctive phrase patterns.  The first two phrases are primarily step-wise while the second pair has a series of skips and falls with eighth notes to add interest.  The tune is used for one other hymn in the book, Thy kingdom come- on bended knee #784.


Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Hymn 58


Another in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #58

To render thanks unto the Lord

Psalm 92
Bishopthorpe
Paraphrase, Scottish  Psalter 1650
Music: Jeremiah Clarke (c.1674-1707) paraphrase
 
To render thanks unto the Lord,
it is a comely thing,
and to thy name, O thou Most High,
due praise aloud to sing.

Thy loving kindness to show forth
when shines the morning light,
and to declare thy faithfulness
with pleasure every night,

upon a ten-stringed instrument,
up on the psaltery,
and on the harp with solemn sound,
and grave sweet melody.

For thou, Lord, by thy mighty works
hast made my heart right glad,
and I will triumph in the works
which by thy hands were made. 

The language is quite archaic.  When was the last time you heard anything referred to as “comely”?  I find the fact that verse two doesn’t end until the end of verse three irritating, as always when these things happen.

The tune Bishopthorpe is a slightly less familiar melody, at least in the churches in my area.  In 3/4 time, it begins with a syncopated pick-up note at each phrase.  I really like the snappy rhythm in the second last bar.  The range is slightly less than an octave, and it is easy to sing.  This is the only hymn in the Book of Praise which uses this melody, though it does work with other 8686 CM lyrics.


Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Fifteen


Fifteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #54

My song forever shall record

Psalm 89
St. Petersburg
Paraphrase: Psalter 1912
Music: Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnyanski (1751-1825)
 
 

 My song forever shall record
the tender mercies of thte Lord;
thy faithfulness will I proclaim,
and every age shall know thy name.
I sing of mercies that endure,
forever builded firm and sure.

Almighty God, thy lofty throne
has justice for its cornerstone,
and shining bright efore thy face
are truth and love and boundless grace.
The heavens shall join in glad accord
to praise thy wondrous works, O Lord.

The swelling sea obeys thy will;
its angry waves my voice can still;
the heavens and earth,|by right divine,
the world and all therein are thine;
the whole creation’s wondrous frame
proclaims its Maker”s glorious name.

With blessing is the nation crowned
whose people know the joyful sound;
they in the light, O Lord, shall live,
the light thy face and favour give.
Their fame and might to thee belong,
for in thy favour they are strong. 

I really like this hymn.  It is new to me, that is it hasn’t been used at my church or at least not often, but I think it deserves to be used more often.  The lyrics are nicely paraphrased into singable poetry which match the phrase lengths and rhyme nicely.

The melody is lovely and lilting and has a nice little switch-up at the end of the second phrase to transition into the third which is different.  It ends up being A A’ B in form.  The harmony parts are interesting to sing and add to the overall appeal of the piece.

 

Theory On Why We Tend To Sit in Back Pews


At a service today in an historic Presbyterian church, which is one of the buildings at local attraction King’s Landing, I noticed that the wood stove which would have provided heat for the building was back in the second-last row. That would be the place to be on a cold Sunday morning!

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Fourteen


Fourteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #51

There where the judges gather

Psalm 82
Munich
Paraphrase: Henry Zylstra (1909-1956)
Music: Neuvermehrtes Gesangbuch 1963; arr Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
 
 
 

There where the judges gather, a greater takes the seat;
“How long,” God asks the judges, “will you pronounce deceit?
How long show special favour to those of ill repute?
How long neglect the orphan, the poor and desitute?

Deal justly with the needy; protect the powerless;
deliver the afflicted from those who would oppress,
but you are surely blinded; you do not understand:
therefore foundations totter; injustice rocks the land.”

God speaks: “I named you rulers, to serve the Most High God,
but you shall die as mortals and perish by my rod.”
Arise, O God, in judgement, your sovereignty make known,
for yours are all the nations: the peoples are your own.

I don’t really like the flow of the lyrics for this hymn.  The Psalm itself is far easier to follow and is not divided into even length stanzas which fits better with the meaning. 

Munich is a good tune, though not very familiar in my church.  Another suggestion given is St. Theodulph (214, 115) which is quite familiar.

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Thirteen


Thirteenth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #47

Remember not, O God

Psalm 79
Southwell (Daman)
Paraphrase: Psalter 1912
Music: Daman’s Psalter 1579
 
 
 

Remember not, O God,
the sins of long ago;
in tender mercy visit us,
distressed and humbled low.

O Lord, our Saviour, help,
and glorify your name;
deliver us from all our sins
and take away our shame

Then, safe within your fold,
we will exalt your name;
our thankful hearts with songs of joy
your goodness will proclaim.

The poetry of this is quite nice.  I read it aloud and the flow is great. It basically sums up two stanzas of detailed lists of sins of the nations, nineteen lines of poetry, down into one line, “Remember not, O God, the sins of long ago;”  The full Psalm is a lot more raw than the paraphrase.

Southwell, the tune, is short and simple.  In a minor key and very stepwise it is not hard to sing.  The rhythm provides some interest with the dotted rhythm in the third phrase which breaks up the square feeling from the other three phrases.  I would be inclined to ignore the half-note value for the first word of each verse and just have a quarter-note pick-up which then matches the other phrases.

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Twelve


Twelfth in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #39

O God of mercy, God of grace

Psalm 66
Dix
Paraphrase, Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847)
Music: Conrad Kocher (1786-1872)
Arrangement: William Henry Monk (1823-1889)
public domain
 
 
God of mercy, God of grace,
show the brightness of your face.
Shine upon us, Saviour, shine;
fill your world with light divine,
and your saving health extend
unto earth’s remotest end.

Let the people praise you, Lord;
be by all that live adored.
Let the nations shout and sing
glory to their gracious King;
at your feet their tribute pay,
and your holy will obey.

Let the people praise you, Lord;
earth shall then its fruits afford.
Unto us your blessing give;
we to you devoted live,
all below and all above,
one in joy and light and love.

This is the first of the hymns to which I can give wholehearted recommendation for use in services.  The paraphrase is good.  It fits nicely with the musical phrases.  It is only three verses which makes it good to use when time is an issue in your service.  I assume that part of the reason it is so well-known is that it is such  a positive prayer which can fit almost any circumstance and not only when Psalm 66 is in the lectionary readings for the day.

In my area at least, this is a very well-known melody and arrangement. It is not difficult to sing and the ABABCD phrase structure gives both continuity and variety.  Overall, a great piece of music!

 

Praise Notes: The Book of Praise Eleven


Eleventh in a series of posts that go through hymns in The Book of Praise of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. 

Hymn #37

O God, thou art my God alone

Psalm 63
Wainwright
Paraphrase, James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Music: Richard Wainwright (1758-1825)
public domain
 
O God, thou art my God alone;
early to thee my soul shall cry,
a pilgrim in a land unknown,
a thirsty land whose springs are dry.

Yet through this rough and thorny maze
I follow hard on thee, my God;
thy hand unseen upholds my ways;
I safely tread where thou hast trod.

Thee in the watches of the night
when I remember on my bed,
thy presence makes the darkness light;
thy guardian wings are round my head.

Better than life itself, thy love,
dearer than all beside to me,
for whom have I in heaven above,
or what on earth, compared with thee?

Praise with my heart, my mind, my voice,
for all thy mercy I will give;
my soul shall still in God rejoice;
my tongue shall bless the while I live.

The paraphrase is good.  It fits nicely with the musical phrases and for the most part uses syntax which makes the meaning of the verses clear.  I particularly like the third and fifth verses.

The tune for this hymn is not well known in my congregation, but is not difficult to sing and fairly pleasant.  There are also some interesting bits in the parts which makes it more fun for the choir.