New Hymns

Sunday Morning and Beyond

Editor's note: Is this publication late, or just a reminder? If you're like me, there's often some worship filing on your desk on Monday and Tuesday. If you're really like me, you may just now be getting around to filing Easter materials. And, thus, it is the perfect time to publish these lovely hymn texts by Rebecca Littlejohn, one for Easter  and another based on the Acts 10 lectionary reading for the past Sunday. So get out some file folders and mark them up for Easter B and Easter 6B, file your materials, and add these hymn ideas. You'll thank yourself when 2012 rolls around!

In the last month or so, I have written two hymns for the tune
"Austrian Hymn".  It's a lovely tune, but the words of "Glorious Things
of Thee Are Spoken" just never manage to have anything to do with the
themes of our worship services.  I have not used the Easter hymn text,
but this week I just couldn't find anything I liked to go with the
story of Peter and Cornelius from Acts 10, so I made my own.

"Visions of a Common Family"
Visions came to good Cornelius:
God had heard his faithful prayer.
“Send for Peter, at the seaside;
Though he now is unaware,
He will bring you words of wonder,
comfort, welcome and release.”
Doors are opening to the stranger;
Can God’s children live in peace?

Peter praying on the rooftop,
challenged by the Lord’s command,
first protested his own righteousness,
then saw Love in this demand.
All are welcomed; enter freely.
God’s own house is your domain!
What our God has named as holy,
we must never call profane.

As the words of Life were spoken,
friends and servants gathered round,
Gentiles each and every one of them;
by our barriers, all are bound.
Then God’s Spirit came upon them,
baptizing with Christ’s own power!
Visions of a common family
even now begin to flower.

"Jesus Christ, Our Friend and Teacher"
Jesus Christ, our friend and teacher,
crucified upon a cross.
Such a scandal, such a mystery,
God has suffered deepest loss.
When our hearts ache, souls are weary,
do we feel the arms of God?
Jesus knows our pain and weeping,

who the path of sorrow trod.

When the women came to grieve him,
lo, the stone was rolled away.
Tomb was empty, linens folded;
T'was the dawn of Easter Day.
In their hearts a transformation:
grief was slowly turned to joy.
Resurrection love has triumphed;
death's dread powers have been destroyed.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,
present in the breaking bread,
to a world in need of servants,
sends us out and goes ahead.
"Do not fear, for I am with you,"
is the promise evermore.
"You will see me when you offer
care to strangers and feed the poor."

Rev. Rebecca Littlejohn is pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples
of Christ) in Anniston, Alabama.  In her almost eight years there, she
has had the opportunity to create and lead many creative worship
services and thus gives thanks for her open-minded and flexible

8 replies
  1. Laura S-R
    Laura S-R says:

    Thanks for sharing these, Rebecca! I wish I had your gift for putting theological poetry to hymn tunes.

  2. Alex
    Alex says:

    I like the tune. Does it irritate you because it is incorrectly labeled?
    Beautiful. How would one get permission to use these words?

  3. Chavale
    Chavale says:

    @Alex: No, it doesn´t irritate me because its “incorrectly” labeled.
    Haydn was from Austria so the label is totally right.
    But for some funny reasons the tune has become the German national anthem and so it´s funny to me to hear a melody which I connect with something completely different at church with “church-words”. (Just to let you know: I am German 😉

  4. teri
    teri says:

    we actually avoid this tune b/c of the german anthem connotations as well–we just use a different tune in the same meter whenever it comes up. I live in the US, not in Germany…but there are a number of mixed Jewish-Christian families in our church (not surprising since the county’s only synagogue is next door) and we are sensitive to the way they might hear that particular tune (or if that’s the one day they bring a family member to church!). I’ve had a comment here and there about the tune and am glad not to use it for that reason.
    It’s also the centerpiece of an incident in Girl Meets God in which an ethnically Jewish/newly Christian woman is so offended she walks out of church.

  5. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    For those who are interested, you may use these words for worship with my permission; just put my name in there somewhere.
    And I understand the need to avoid the tune in certain contexts too. Feel free to use a different tune, if you prefer. It doesn’t really have that connotation in my congregation, but we must all be careful about delicate sensitivities. I can’t imagine singing “churchy” words to the Star Spangled Banner!

  6. Bill Rutledge
    Bill Rutledge says:

    This Sunday’s Sermon is from Acts 10 and there are no hymns that fit. “Visions of a Common Family” is perfect. It goes beautifully with the tune “Stuttgart” which I will be using this Sunday. To make it fit better, I am changing the line “first protested his own righteousness” to “first protested his own goodness.”


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