Hymn of the Week Reflection: Two Hymns Making the Way of Social Justice

March 20, 2015 § 2 Comments

This past Sunday, March 15, I was seating in the pews –a rare situation, since most of the time I am serving as an acolyte. I was so very moved when I saw in the bulletin that we were about to sing a hymn from the LEVAS hymnal (Lift Every Voice and Sing). This in itself was relevant to me for two reasons: the first one is that having LEVAS available in the pews says “everyone is welcome” in a very powerful way, particularly at a time when the political climate in our society is filled with events that diminish the lives of our black brothers and sisters. I marched last December chanting “black lives matter!” I take this issue very seriously. The second reason that made this relevant had to do with what we sang, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, which is one of my many favorite Christian hymns.

The next congregational hymn we sang was #603 from the Hymnal 1982. This hymn reminds us that “where generation, class, or race divide us to our shame, [Jesus] sees not labels…” instead He sees us as who we are, each of us, uniquely made and He knows us by our name. These words echoed the hope brought by the anthem “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:” Jesus sought me when a stranger… He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

In this liturgical time, we go deep into the darkness of the wilderness, and, in this historical time, we are in as much trouble as Jesus and his followers were in Jerusalem, where political, social and religious oppression were at their peak. Social inequity, health disparities, and abuse of power are some of the signs of a corrupt society, thus the sense of abandonment and despair grows constantly in those who are being oppressed. Yet, in spite of all darkness, all fears and all troubles, we find our way to Jesus, our redeemer; and though we are in a penitential season, we find ways in which our hearts want to be tuned to “sing Thy grace.” God’s grace is the only constant assurance in times of trouble because “Thou is fount of every blessing” and it is only by God’s grace that we turn and tune our hearts “to sing Thy grace.”

Here are the lyrics of both hymns as discussed above:

Hymn from LEVAS:

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.

# 603 from Hymnal 1982

1 When Christ was lifted from the earth,
his arms stretched out above 
through every culture, every birth,
to draw an answering love.

2 Still east and west his love extends
and always, near or far,
he calls and claims us as his friends
and loves us as we are.

3 Where generation, class, or race 
divide us to our shame,
he sees not labels but a face,
a person, and a name.

4 Thus freely loved, though fully known,
may I in Christ be free
to welcome and accept his own
as Christ accepted me.

– Anahi Galante

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§ 2 Responses to Hymn of the Week Reflection: Two Hymns Making the Way of Social Justice

  • Aaron Miner says:

    Anahi, I love how powerful that line (“tune my heart to sing thy grace”) becomes in the context of darkness and trouble, and I really love how seamlessly you related the wilderness of Lent to experiences of oppression here and now. It is so necessary for that to be spoken.

  • Anahi Galante says:

    Thank you Aaron, I am glad to hear that it resonated with you and that what I intended to convey came across with clarity. Again, thank you!

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