Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Prayer for the New Year

John Greenleaf Whittier’s hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” makes a fitting prayer for the New Year. Listen to this arrangement by the Westminster Abbey choir and congregation.

Whittier was an American Quaker who wrote this hymn as part of a poem in 1872. It is usually set to the British hymn tune, Repton, and has become one of the more popular hymns in the UK.

As we enter a chaotic year of economic, political, and military turmoil around the world, Whittier’s hymn, perhaps influenced by his Quaker values, ask for the inner calm and openness to hear the still voice of God in the midst of the turmoil.

A stanza that is often omitted, but one that is important for us who are moved to mission, is this one:

In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

Many arrangements can be found for this hymn, including one from the soundtrack of the 2007 movie, Atonement, but the congregational one seemed most appropriate. Nevertheless, here’s an interesting one played on a rope carillon.

Blessed New Year!

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