There is a longing in our hearts

Today’s hymn from Sing Praise is ‘There is a longing in our hearts’ by Anne Quigley.  It’s from the section headed ‘prayer’, but longing is one of the themes of Advent, and the chorus reflects this: ‘There is a longing in our hearts, O Lord, for you to reveal yourself to us. There is a longing in our hearts for love we only find in you, our God’. 

The first three short verses cover various types and occasions of prayer, for others, ourselves and our relationship with God.  We pray for ‘justice, freedom, mercy, wisdom, courage, healing and wholeness, and new life’. We pray in ‘sorrow, grief, weakness, fear, sickness and death’.  Of course we can also pray in thankfulness and joy, but that isn’t the emphasis in this reflective season of the year. The last verse instead asks God to be light in our darkness. 

The last line of all the verses is ‘be near, hear our prayer, O God’.   Altogether, with its subdued melody, themes of longing and light in darkness, it’s a very suitable hymn for the season.

1 thought on “There is a longing in our hearts”

  1. I think Anne Quigley must be a Roman Catholic writer (as OCP Publications is a RC organization). At all events, like Bernadette Farrell, I think she has expressed something very poignant in the chorus of this hymn, and I appreciated it. The particular phrase which caught my eye in singing the hymn was “for you to reveal YOURSELF to us”. The hunger in the heart of humanity is a “God-shaped hole” into which only God himself can fit. Well done to Anne for saying this so directly.

    Although this longing is the driver of prayer, for me the details of the verses were less important; and in a way they all miss the point. The point is that the revealer of God’s self is Jesus himself – this is the whole theme of John’s Gospel, and more generally the consistent witness of the New Testament.

    Unlike the COVID-19 virus, the spike protein by which God may enter human cells does not need to suffer continual genetic modification and “improvements” or “updates” as time passes – even though we in the religion business might think it is up to us to invent new ways for the Gospel to penetrate people’s hearts. The timeless key is Jesus himself.

    For most of my ministry I have conducted school assemblies – “acts of collective worship” as they are now called. But many years ago I read an article which asked whether these assemblies actually do anything else than innoculate children against the real Jesus: replacing a genuine encounter with Jesus with a sitting in serried ranks in a dedicated building, and persuading children that they have already encountered Jesus in such settings without asking them for a personal response to him? The question still disturbs me.

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