Praise to you, O Christ, our Saviour

Today’s hymn from Sing Praise is by Bernadette Farrell, one of my favourite modern hymnwriters. She has a gift for writing in plain (American) English but without it sounding trite, and to melodies that are easy to sing. The title (first line of the chorus) is “Praise to you O Christ our Saviour”, but the theme of the four verses is Christ the Word.  For an exploration of the different meanings of that phrase, see my commentary on her similar hymn “Word of God, renew your people” (25 January).

In the first verse here, the Word is the one who “calls us out of darkness and leads us into light, who brings us through the desert”; in the third verse, the one who “calls us to be servants, whose only law is love, who lives among us” and in the final verse the Word “binds us and unites us, calls us to be one, teaches us forgiveness”.  In the second verse, “the Word” doesn’t appear but Jesus is names as “the one whom prophets hoped and longed for, who speaks to us today, who leads us to our future”.   Many of these phrases contain verbs expressing the way Jesus is active in moving us along – leads, brings, calls, and (again) leads. The Christian understanding of God as revealed in Jesus is not like the remote mountaintop guru who must be sought out, but the complete opposite, one who is always on the lookout for people who might respond if he calls them, follow if he leads them.

Not for nothing is Lent often thought of as a period of journeying. We not only hear the story of Jesus’ own journey from fame to infamy and from Galilee to Golgotha, but also (hopefully) find him calling us and leading us on the next stage of our own journeys.

1 thought on “Praise to you, O Christ, our Saviour”

  1. I also like Bernadette Farrell’s modern hymns, but I feel bound to say I didn’t find this one as enjoyable as I expected. I think that was partly because there are various “muddy” elements in the music, which to me obscure the harmony and light touch nature; and partly because the whole song is resolutely in E minor and doesn’t really have many moments when it gets out into major modes to lighten up the mood.

    To amplify these points: is the second chord of the verse really G, or is the F# in the tenor meant seriously (meaning the chord is B minor and there are parallel fifths between bass and tenor)? Are the parallel fifths between bass and tenor really meant in the “leads us into” bar (bar 12, and also in bar 14)? Is the tenor really supposed to double the melody in bar 13 – surely a D would be better here? Couldn’t the twiddle melody at the end of the verse have been in the tenor and involved a few F#s (last bar)? Couldn’t the tune have had a line that would have indulged the listener with an underlying G major feeling? Couldn’t there even have been just the occasional D# – did all the D’s have to be so resolutely naturalized?

    And I’m sorry to be so predictable, but I would have loved some actual rhymes in the verses. Overall this is a hymn of praise in its theme, but its tune does come across as rather more lament than rejoicing.

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