This Sunday, we will hear three American tunes. The prelude is based on the tune "Wondrous Love". The composer is unknown, but it is likely to have come from an Appalachian folk song. The tune had been written down by the 1830s in the shape note tune book Southern Harmony.
Our sequence hymn responds to the reading from Romans and introduces the Gospel. What can follow one of the last verses from the epistle, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” and bring us into this reading from Matthew:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”?
One of my favorite hymns, written by the American composer William Batchelder Bradbury, instantly came to mind -- “Just As I Am” (words by English poet Charlotte Elliott).
As the service ends, I will play an arrangement of the African American spiritual “Oh, Freedom!” as found in the hymnal Lift Every Voice and Sing II.
Our prelude this Sunday is a familiar tune - Hendon - which many might know as “Take My Life and Let it Be.” This text is set to a few different hymn tunes, but I appreciate what Hendon does for the text with the reading from Romans. This rendition will begin as a meditation but evolve into the stately hymn that calls us to devote and serve.
Before the gospel this Sunday, we will sing “Wilt thou Forgive that Sin,” which combines the text and music of two greats -- John Donne and J.S. Bach. Like the prelude, this was selected because of the reading from Romans. Each line that ends in a question, or the suggestion of a question, ends on a major chord. Since the tune is minor, this creates a feeling of intrigue and hope.
As we finish the service and prepare to start a new week, I will play the hymn tune Westminster
Abbey with Doug’s wonderful recording (I will play the descant). We know this tune as “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation.” The text echoes the Collect and reminds us of the many ways in which we are joined, even when times are so strange.