Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A note on this evening’s
Eucharist and hymns

The Samaritan Woman at the Well ... an icon in the Church of Aghios Nikolaos in Vathy on the Greek island of Samos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

I am presiding at the Community Eucharist in the Chapel of the Church of Ireland Theological Institute this evening (5 p.m., 26 March 2014). The readings, Collect and Post-Communion Prayer at this evening’s Eucharist are those for last Sunday (23 March 2014), the Third Sunday in Lent.

These photographs and these notes on the hymns are part of this evening’s service sheet.

Many of our hymns this evening reflect the themes in our readings, and the Gospel in particular.

Processional Hymn: ‘As the deer pants for the water’ (Irish Church Hymnal, 606), a praise song written by Martin Nystrom, is based on Psalm 42. Marty Nystrom says this song evolved during a time of personal worship, while he was playing the piano alone on the 19th day of a 21-day fast.

An earlier hymn based on Psalm 42, ‘As pants the hart for cooling streams’ (607), was written by the Dublin-born poet laureate Nahum Tate (1652-1715) and the Bandon-born Shakespearean scholar, the Revd Dr Nicholas Brady (1659-1726).

Gradual: ‘Come down, O love divine,’ (294) Come down, O love divine (Hymn 294), was originally written in Italian in the 14th century by Bianco da Siena. It was first translated into English in 1867 by the Revd Dr Richard Frederick Littledale, a Dublin-born Anglican priest.

The tune Down Ampney by Ralph Vaughan Williams is named after the Cotswold village in Gloucestershire where he was born and where his father, the Revd Arthur Vaughan Williams, was the vicar.

Offertory: ‘Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts’ (425), includes the lines:

we drink of thee, the fountain-head
and thirst our souls from thee to fill.


This hymn, written in the 12th century by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (Jesu dulcis memoria), was translated from Latin to English by the Congregationalist hymn writer, the Revd Dr Ray Palmer, and was published in his Poetical Works (New York: 1876).

Communion Hymn: As we receive Holy Communion, we sing ‘Jesus, remember me’ (617), by Jacques Berthier (1923-1994) and the Taizé Community. The words are based on the words of the penitent thief (Luke 23: 42), and so it is appropriate in Lent and may serve call to mind our discussion of the Jesus Prayer on Monday.

Post-Communion Hymn: ‘Go forth for God; go forth to the world in peace’ (455). This is a wonderful parting hymn of encouragement. It exhorts us to “go forth for God” to the world in peace (stanza 1), “in strength” (stanza 2), “in love” (stanza 3), and “in joy” (stanza 4), using phrases from Romans 12: 9-21 and I Thessalonians 5: 14-16 – Biblical texts with Saint Paul’s instructions about how to act in the world.

Canon John Peacey (1896-1971), who wrote this hymn, studied theology at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and was ordained priest in 1923. He was the Dean of Selwyn College, Cambridge, Principal of Bishop’s College, Calcutta, and Canon Residentiary of Bristol Cathedral. This hymn was published posthumously in 1975, and the Trinitarian fifth stanza was added by the editors of English Praise, a supplement to the English Hymnal.

The tune Magda was written by Vaughan Williams for his niece, Magdalene Fisher, for her marriage to Antony Macnaghten in 1926. The couple later lived near Bushmills, Co Antrim.

The Samaritan Woman at the Well ... a modern Greek icon in an exhibition in the Fortezza in Rethymnon, Crete (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013)

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