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.