We are now on to a section of the Sing Praise hymn book titled ‘gathering’: these hymns are intended to be sung at the start of an act of worship to help the congregation feel they belong together. Today’s hymn is ‘Living God, your word has called us’ by Jan Berry.
The first lines of the three verses are almost identical but for one word: “Living God, your word/love/hope has called us”. So being called by God is the theme, and as it’s ‘us’ not ‘me’, this is the prayer of the whole congregation. In the first verse, God’s word, we ask to be made one “in hope and grace” and describes our praise and prayer as “springing from the love we share”.
The second verse, God’s love, refers to him making us the Body of Christ by the Spirit. How does that happen in practice? “Working, laughing, learning, growing, old and young and black and white, gifts and skills together sharing, in your service all unite”. The words remind me of one of the few modern hymns I know in German, “Stimmet ein, groß und klein” which has much the same message (I couldn’t find the full words online to link to).
The last verse, God’s hope, turns us outwards to service in the world (not usually a theme of a ‘gathering’ hymn) “teaching us to live for others, humble, joyful, unafraid”. We ask for “eyes to see your presence” (implied: in other people).
The hymn presents a picture of the ideal congregation, coming together in worship, becoming one in fellowship, serving Christ together joyfully. In practice some congregations seem to be closer to that ideal than others, but it remains an ideal rather than a reality for most.
The suggested tune is one called ‘Tor Hill’ (a tautology, but never mind). It was unfamiliar to me and I was pleased that John chose the better known ‘Hyfrydol’. Another Welsh hymn tune ‘Blaenwern’ is also suggested as an alternative.