Christ is the one who calls

Today’s hymn from Sing Praise is ‘Christ is the one who call’ by Timothy Dudley-Smith. The tune set in the book is ‘Love unknown’ but John chose to sing it to ‘Harewood’ (‘Christ is our cornerstone’). 

In its five verses the hymn explores Christ’s relationship with us. Firstly he calls us as “the one who loved and came” – we believe that Jesus is God, and God is love.  Then he seeks us as the one “to whom our souls are known” – he is intimately within our very being, as well as at work in the world. Then he is “the one who died forsaken and betrayed”, for we must never forget the price he paid for saving us.  Yet he is “the one who rose in glory from the grave” – the promise of forgiveness of sin through the cross is inextricably connected with the promise of eternal life through the resurrection. Finally he is “the one who sends, his story to declare” – the gospels end not with the resurrection but with the disciples being commissioned, whether by their fishing boats or on the mountain, to go and tell others this story of God’s saving love.

There are of course other words to each of the verses besides those I’ve quoted, and the full text is online here. The hymn was new to me, but as a concise summary of the work of Christ and our response to him, it is worth remembering for another occasion.

1 thought on “Christ is the one who calls”

  1. I liked this hymn. About the tune first – I have always thought that “Love unknown” by John Ireland, which I understand was written specifically for “My song is love unknown”, was especially designed for the features of the words of that hymn: the second half of each verse draws a contrast with the first half, and introduces a darker side of Jesus (“Lord who am I?” / “Then crucify” / “yet cheerful he to suffering goes” etc.) and the tune with its descent to the subdominant matches that descent in mood. Timothy Dudley-Smith’s verses don’t have this same feature, and I felt that the continuous crotchet procession of the last four lines of “Harewood” were much better suited to the way that Timothy’s thought carries across the line-ends of this part of the verse.

    I very much liked the words. I think Timothy gave a splendid overview and summary of different aspects of the One whom Christ is, taking us through his life in a sequence which also unpacks his impact on our lives – the genius of this kind of writing is that the two sequences seem to coincide almost accidentally. It is this kind of art that sets Timothy above a lot of other hymnwriters, including me!

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