Today’s song from Sing Praise is ‘Word of Justice’ by Bernadette Farrell. It is one of her ‘call and response’ type songs, a style favoured by her Roman Catholic tradition. The response of the congregation to each pair of calls is ‘Alleluia!’ and ‘Maranatha!’ (the latter meaning ‘O Lord, Come!).
The calls are relevant both to yesterday’s hymn and to the Advent season. Relevant to yesterday’s hymn because those seven sayings of Jesus from John’s Gospel are followed here by nine expressions of the Word (that Word which John tells us became flesh in Jesus). The first eight are Word of Justice / Mercy / Power / Freedom / Healing / Comfort / Gladness / Wisdom, each with a following invocation: Come to dwell here, Live among us, Live within us, Save your people, Heal our sorrow, Bring us hope now, Fill our hearts now, Come renew us. And finally ‘Word we long for, Word we thirst for’.
The words are carefully crafted with a logical progression: Justice, mercy and power are in God’s nature, always held in creative tension. Freedom, healing, comfort and hope are what the Messiah was prophesied to bring. And gladness and wisdom are the fruits of him living within us. So in this alone, the song has an Advent theme to us. This is reinforced with the last three calls which take up the titles used for Jesus in this season: Key of David, Son of Mary, Cry of Prophets, Hope of ages, Light of nations, Light in darkness.