01 August 2022

Praying with USPG and the hymns of
Vaughan Williams: Monday 1 August 2022

‘God, bless us as we journey on to live in loving ways’ … continuing the journey at Baker Street station in London (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose music is celebrated throughout this year’s Proms season.

In my prayer diary for these weeks I am reflecting in these ways:

1, One of the readings for the morning;

2, Reflecting on a hymn or another piece of music by Vaughan Williams, often drawing, admittedly, on previous postings on the composer;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

The readings for Morning Prayer in Common Worship this morning is:

II Corinthians 11: 1-15 (NRSVA):

1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough. 5 I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

7 Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And what I do I will also continue to do, in order to deny an opportunity to those who want an opportunity to be recognized as our equals in what they boast about. 13 For such boasters are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is not strange if his ministers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness. Their end will match their deeds.

‘You teach us what it means to be a church that worships you’ … in the chapel of Saint John’s Hospital, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Today’s reflection: ‘O God of Love, the Fast You Choose’

Ralph Vaughan Williams was the composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores, a collector of English folk music and song. With Percy Dearmer, he co-edited the English Hymnal, in which he included many folk song arrangements as hymn tunes, and several of his own original compositions.

This morning I have chosen a new hymn written ten years ago (2012) by the American hymn writer, the Revd Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, ‘O God of Love, the Fast You Choose.’ She has set this hymn to the tune ‘Kingsfold’, arranged by Vaughan Williams.

Many scholars think this folk tune dates back to the Middle Ages, and it has been adapted for a variety of texts in England and Ireland.

The tune was published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E Broadwood and JA Fuller Maitland. After hearing the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, Vaughan Williams arranged and harmonised it as a hymn tune in The English Hymnal (1906), where it is a setting for Horatius Bonar’s ‘I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say’ (No 574; see Irish Church Hymnal No 576). It has also been associated with the hymn ‘O Sing a Song of Bethlehem.’

The Revd Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s hymn, ‘O God of Love, the Fast You Choose,’ was written for Ash Wednesday 2012 and to be sung to Kingsfold. She bases this hymn on one of the Old Testament readings provided in the Revised Common Lectionary for Ash Wednesday (Isaiah 58:1-12), with its social justice themes.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette grew up in a Methodist family. She studied at Lebanon Valley College and Princeton Theological Seminary and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1986. Her husband, the Revd Bruce Gillette is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Union Church in Owego, New York, and Carolyn serves as a parish associate pastor at the church.

Her compilations include Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor and Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship. A complete list of her 200 or more hymns, many with peace and justice themes, can be found at her website: www.carolynshymns.com.

O God of Love, the Fast You Choose

O God of love, the fast you choose
is not some great display.
It’s everything we gladly do
to serve you day by day.
It’s not a moment set apart
when we will mourn our sin;
For you require a change of heart –
A change from what has been.

Lord, we confess we often sing
that you are our delight,
Then we go shouting words that sting;
we bicker and we fight.
Oppressing others for our gain,
we put our interests first.
We overlook our neighbours’ pain
while praying here in church.

You teach us what it means to be
a church that worships you:
In setting captive people free,
we praise you as you choose.
In sharing bread with hungry folk,
bringing the homeless in,
And breaking every bitter yoke
we worship you again.

God, bless us as we journey on
to live in loving ways.
Then darkness will turn into dawn
and gloom will turn to praise.
When justice is our offering,
we also will be blest,
And we will know the fast we bring
will be our very best.

Text: Copyright © 2012 Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

Churches that support Sojourners have permission to use this hymn. However, this hymn is copyrighted and is not covered by any organisations, such as CCLI or OneLicense, that give churches permission to use church music.

To use this hymn, one must contact Carolyn and Bruce Gillette (bcgillette@comcast.net) for permission and to get a copy of the hymn in MS Word format for bulletin use.

‘Let us pray for the Diocese in Europe and give thanks for the support they provide for refugees’

Today’s Prayer:

At the annual conference of the USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) in High Leigh last week, we were updated on the work of USPG’s partners in Ukraine, Russia and with USPG’s partners with Ukrainian refugees. The theme in the USPG prayer diary this week is ‘Refugee Support in Poland,’ and was introduced by the Revd David Brown, Chaplain of the Anglican Church in Poland.

Monday 1 August 2022:

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for the Diocese in Europe and give thanks for the support they provide for refugees.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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