Lessons and Hymns for Sunday, January 26, 2014

by the Rev. William P. McLemore

SCRIPTURE REFLECTIONS:   Acts 26:9-21 – After his conversion experience Jesus tells Paul “I am sending you to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light.”  Psalm 67 tells of God as the light of the world and adds, “Let your ways be known upon earth, your saving health among all nations.”  Galatians 1:11-24 is where St. Paul recounts his conversion with the ending comment, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.”  Matthew 10:16-22 – Jesus sends out the twelve disciples “like sheep into the midst of wolves.”




PROCESSIONAL HYMN:   No. 255.  “We Sing the Glorious Conquest.”  This hymn was written by John Ellerton on February 28, 1871, for the commemoration of the Conversion of St. Paul in the SPCK’S Church Hymns, 1871.   The words both recall the dramatic conversion of Saul and calls for us to respond with our own vocations and callings.,  The tune, “Munich,” is an old German melody harmonized by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).


THE SEQUENCE HYMN:  No. 661. “The Cast Their Nets in Galilee.”  This hymn is a portion of a poem written by a compassionate man who was born and resided in Mississippi, William Alexander Percy (1885-1942).  He graduated from the University of the South in 1904 and earned a law degree from Harvard in 1908.  As an Army officer, he helped rebuild Belgium after World War I and returned to his home state to supervise relief operations in a flooded portion of Mississippi.  Percy began writing poetry in 1911.  The flowing tune, “Georgetown,” was composed by David McKinley Williams (1887-1978) who served 27 years as choirmaster at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. 


PRESENTATION HYMN:  No. 127.  “Earth Has Many a Noble City.”   This hymn was written by the 4th century, Marcus Auerelius Clemens Prudentius who has been called “The Christian Pindar.”  He was born in northern Spain and converted to Christianity late in life.   It details the story of the wisemen, the star, and their gifts to the magi.  This ancient hymn is sung to the tune “Stuttgart” from an early German chorale which was later adapted by William Henry Harvegal (1793-1870).


COMMUNION HYMN:  No.  321. “My God, Thy Table Now is Spread.”   The words of this hymn have been altered somewhat since it was written by Philip Doddridge in the mid-eighteenth century.   This is his original last verse: “Revive thy dying churches, Lord, And bid our drooping grace live; And more that energy afford, A Saviour’s Blood alone can give.”   The newer words soften the anguish and gore of the earlier.  The tune is “Rockingham,” and is an old English melody adapted and harmonized for the words of this hymn.  This is the sixth time we have sung this hymn in the last six months so we expect an enthusiastic rendition of it by choir and congregation!


RECESSIONAL HYMN:  No. 533. “How Wondrous and Great.”   This is one of the nine hymns written by Henry Ustick Onderdonk for the Hymnal of 1820.  It is a paraphrase of the Song of Moses and the Lamb, Revelation 15:-3-4.  This hymn also reflects the missionary spirit of Epiphany: “To nations of earth thy light shall be shown.”  The tune, “Lyons,” closely resembles a Haydn minuet.