Lessons and Hymns for May 4, 2014

by the Rev. William P. McLemore

SCRIPTURE REFLECTIONS: The first lesson today is Acts 2:14a,36-41 which reports that 3,000 members of the house of Israel were baptized because of the witness of St. Peter. Psalm 116:1-3,10-17 is a personal ascription to the salvation of God. The Epistle, I Peter 1:17-23 reminds Christians they have been “born anew.” The Gospel reading is Luke 24:13-35 is a story of the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

THE HYMNS:

PROCESSIONAL HYMN: : No. 180. “He Is Risen.”  Cecil Frances Alexander, the wife of a Bishop of the Church of Ireland, wrote this hymn in the late 1800’s. She was a prolific poet and wrote nearly 400 hymns and poems.   Joachim Neander is the composer of the tune, “Unser Herrscher.”

THE SEQUENCE HYMN: No. 209. “We Walk By Faith and Not by Sight.” This hymn was written by The Most Rev. Henry Alford (1810-1871), Dean of Canterbury Cathedral.   Three of his hymns were printed in the 1940 hymnal and this hymn is new to our 1982 version. Roughly based on the appearance of Jesus to Thomas it pleads for faith beyond what we can see or touch. The tune, “St. Botolph,” was composed by Gordon Slater (1896-1979)

PRESENTATION HYMN: No. 204. “Now the Green Blade Riseth.”   The hymn was written by John MacLeod Campbell Crum (1872-1958) and appeared in his 1928 Oxford Book of Carols. Crum graduated from Oxford in 1895 and was ordained a deacon in 1897 and priest in 1900. He served a number of Anglican parishes and before he retired he served as a Canon at Canterbury Cathedral (1928-1943). (See Canon Crum in the photograph.) Each verse ends with the refrain, “Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.” The tune, “Noel Nouvelet,” is a medieval French carol.

COMMUNION HYMN: No. 335. “I Am the Bread of Life.” The words and music for this very popular new hymn are by Suzanne Toolan and based upon John 6.   Toolan, a Mercy Sister, is an internationally known composer of liturgical music. This particular hymn has been translated into 20 languages. She is a prominent American spokeswoman for the music and prayer of the Taize ecumenical community from France and leads many retreats. The Taize Community is a monastic order founded by Roger Schutz in 1940, a Protestant pastor, but includes brothers from both Protestant and Catholic backgrounds. The monastic center is located in Taize, Burgundy, France.

RECESSIONAL HYMN: No. 544. “Jesus Shall Reign.” There are about a dozen hymns in our hymnal that are my favorite and this one is close to the top of the list. Isaac Watts created this happy and joyful song based on Psalm 72.   The imagery of the risen Christ is certainly found in the words of this hymn, especially the 4th verse, “the prisoners leap to lose their chains.” The tune “Duke Street,” composed by John Hatton is easy to sing and reflects the joy of Easter in its melody.