Archive for the ‘Songs of Praise’ Tag

Three ‘Great’ Hymns of the Twentieth Century, commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Lunar Landing.   1 comment

Below: The picture of earth from the Moon, July 1969.

Képtalálat a következőre: „apollo 11”

On 20 July 1969 human beings stepped onto the surface of the moon, in one giant leap for mankind.

A Giant Leap of Imagination:

Képtalálat a következőre: „apollo 11”I was just twelve years old when the Apollo 11 lunar module landed on the moon. I remember the event very clearly, being allowed to stay up to watch on our small, black and white television. The whole event was in black and white for everyone on earth, as colour television transmissions did not begin until the following year when we went round to a friend’s house to watch the Football World Cup via satellite from Mexico.

Képtalálat a következőre: „apollo 11”Looking back over those fifty years, it’s interesting to see how much of popular culture on both sides of the Atlantic has been influenced by that event, and the subsequent two Apollo landings of the seventies. Before 1969, most classical compositions and popular song lyrics referenced the moon and the stars in the romantic terms of ‘moonlight’ and ‘Stardust’, even Sinatra’s ‘Fly me to the Moon’. These metaphors continued afterwards, but they were joined by a growing genre of songs about ‘rocketmen’ and space and time exploration which had begun in the early sixties with TV series like ‘Fireball XL-5’, ‘Dr Who’ and ‘Star Trek’.

Gradually, Science Fiction literature and films took us beyond cartoonish ‘superhero’ representations of space and HG Wells’ early novels until, by the time I went to University, ‘Star Wars’ had literally exploded onto the big screens and was taking us truly into a new dimension, at least in our imaginations.

The Dawning of a New Age?

The ‘Age of Aquarius’ had begun on earth as well, with rock musicals, themed albums and concerts, and ‘mushrooming’ festivals under the stars providing the soundtrack and backdrop to the broadening of minds and horizons. Those ‘in authority’ were not at all tolerant of the means used by some to help broaden these horizons and, in those days, these mass encampments were not always seen as welcome additions to the rural landscape and soundscape. Many evangelical Christians were suspicious of the ‘New Age’ mysticism embraced by the Beatles, the outrageous costumes and make-up of David Bowie and Elton John, and the heavy rock music of a series of bands who made use of provocative satanic titles and emblems, like ‘Black Sabbath’. But some, like Larry Norman and ‘The Sheep’, decided to produce their own parallel ‘Christian Rock’ culture. The first Christian ‘Arts’ Greenbelt Festival was held on a pig farm just outside the village of Charsfield near Woodbridge, Suffolk over the August 1974 bank holiday weekend.

Képtalálat a következőre: „Greenbelt 1974”My Christian friends and I, having already seen the musical Lonesome Stone in Birmingham, made the trek across the country to discover more of this genre. Local fears concerning the festival in the weeks running up to it proved to be unfounded, but the festival didn’t return to the venue. We, on the other hand, were excited and enthused by what we saw and heard.

The ‘mantra’ we repeated when we got home to our churches was William Booth’s question, voiced by Larry, Why should the devil get all the best tunes? We wrote and performed our own rock musical, James (a dramatisation of the Book of James) touring it around the Baptist churches in west Birmingham, a different form of evangelism from that of Mary Whitehouse and her ‘Festival of Light’. One of our favourite songs was Alpha and Omega:

He’s the Alpha and Omega,

The Beginning and the End,

The first and last,

Our eternal friend.

Another of their ‘millenarian’ songs, Multitudes, also emphasised the importance of the Day of the Lord, which seemed to chime in well with the ‘nuclear age’ and the Eve of Destruction songs of Bob Dylan and Barry McGuire, among others.

Sun, Moon and Stars in their Courses Above:

Képtalálat a következőre: „Billy Graham”

But though we began to sing new songs, much of this revivalist spirit still owed its origins and source of inspiration to the 1954 North London crusade of Billy Graham, and the hymns associated with it. Great is Thy Faithfulness, written in the USA in the early 1920s, really owes its popularity in Britain to its use by the Billy Graham Crusade (pictured right).

It took some time to for it to find its way into the hymnbooks in Britain, but it now stands high in the ‘hit parade’, ranking fourth in the 2002 BBC Songs of Praise poll. It has much in common with our other hymn, How Great Thou Art, which was the most popular and probably still is, thanks to recent recordings. Both hail from the early part of the twentieth century and both display a strong emphasis on creation and nature, which have become dominating discourses by the early part of the twenty-first century.

Great is Thy Faithfulness is the work of Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960), a devout Methodist from Kentucky who worked successively as a journalist, a school teacher and a life-insurance agent before becoming ordained. He wrote the verses in 1923 and later reflected that there were no special circumstances surrounding their writing and that he was simply expressing his impressions of God’s faithfulness as recounted in the Bible. Yet, as Tom White has written recently in his book on Paul, our ‘justification’ as Christians is not the result of our own ‘little faith’ so much as the great faithfulness of God as revealed in his son, Jesus Christ. Chisholm sent his poem, along with several other poems, to his friend and collaborator William Runyan (1870-1957), a fellow Methodist who achieved considerable fame in the USA as a composer of sacred music and gospel songs.

Képtalálat a következőre: „moody bible institute”Its early popularity in the USA was partly the result of its promotion by Dr Will Houghton, president of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago (pictured right), who used it frequently both in the services he took and on his radio broadcasts on WMBI. George Beverly Shea, first as a singer on the station’s early morning programme, Hymns from the Chapel, and then as the lead singer at Graham’s rallies, also helped to popularise the hymn across America.

The opening verse is based directly on scriptural affirmations about God. Lamentations 3.22 and 33 proclaim that His compassions fail not; they are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness, and James 1.17 declares that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning:

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

there is no shadow of turning with thee;

thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not,

as thou hast been, thou for ever wilt be!

 

Great is thy faithfulness! 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

all I have needed thy hand hath provided –

great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

 

Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest, 

sun, moon and stars in their courses above,

join with all nature in manifold witness

to thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Inspired by a Summer Evening in Sweden:

The second verse places the individual Christian in the context of the wider creation and emphasises the interdependence of the whole created order under its creator. This is the theme which is taken up in How Great Thou Art.

Képtalálat a következőre: „Stuart K. Hine”

According to the 2002 Songs of Praise poll, this is Britain’s favourite hymn, and readers of the Catholic weekly, The Tablet, voted it third in their list of top ten hymns in 2004. Like Great is Thy Faithfulness, it owes much of its popularity to its extensive use in the Billy Graham crusades of the 1950s. But prior to that, the hymn owes its origins to a trail leading from Sweden to Britain via central-eastern Europe. The words in English are a translation of a Swedish poem, O store Gud, by Carl Boberg (1859-1940), an evangelist, journalist and for fifteen years a member of Sweden’s parliament. He was born the son of a shipyard worker on the south-east coast of Sweden. He came to faith at the age of nineteen and went to Bible School Kristinehamn. He returned to his native town of Monsteras as a preacher and it was there in 1886 that he wrote his nine-verse poem, inspired to praise God’s greatness one summer evening while looking across the calm waters of the inlet. A rainbow had formed, following a storm in the afternoon, and a church bell was tolling in the distance. Translated literally into English, the first verse of his poem reads:

O Thou great God! When I the world consider

Which Thou hast made by Thine almighty Word;

And how the web of life Thy wisdom guideth,

And all creation feedeth at Thy board:

Then doth my soul burst forth in song of praise:

O Thou great God! O Thou great God!

Képtalálat a következőre: „Stuart K. Hine”

Boberg’s verses were set to music in 1891 and appeared in several Swedish hymnbooks around the turn of the century. An English translation was published in 1925 under the title O Mighty God, but never really caught on. Earlier, in 1912, a Russian version by Ivan Prokhanoff had appeared. This was almost certainly made from a German translation of the original Swedish hymn. The English translation was the work of British missionary and evangelist, Stuart K Hine (1899-1989), who heard it being sung in Russian in western Ukraine, where he had gone in 1923. After singing the hymn in Russian for many years, Hine translated the first three verses while continuing his missionary work in the Carpathian mountains in the 1930s. The scenery there inspired his second verse which draws little from Boberg’s original poem while remaining true to its general spirit of wonder at God’s creation:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder

Consider all the works Thy hand hath made,

I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

Then sings my soul, my saviour God, to Thee,

How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

(x 2)

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees:

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,

And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;

6088 | The Story of How Great Thou art! How it came to be written by Stuart K Hine with complete album of hymns of other lands

When are we Going to go Home?

Stuart Hine wrote the fourth verse of his hymn when he was back in Britain in 1948. In that year more than a hundred thousand refugees from Eastern Europe streamed into the United Kingdom. The question uppermost in their minds was When are we going home?  In an essay on the history of the hymn, Hine wrote:

What better message for the homeless than that of the One who went to prepare a place for the ‘displaced’, of the God who invites into his own home those who will come to him through Christ. 

Contrasting with a third verse which is about Christ’s ‘bearing’ of our individual burdens of sin on the cross, the final verse is about our places among the multitudes on the ‘last day’, just like the mass of homeless refugees finding a temporary home in Britain:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation

And take me home – what joy shall fill my heart!

Then shall I bow in humble adoration

And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art! 

Seventy years ago, Stuart Hine published both the Russian and the English versions of the hymn in his gospel magazine Grace and Peace in 1949. O Lord My God rapidly caught on in evangelical circles both in Britain and the UK, as well as in Eastern Europe, despite the oppression of the churches by the Soviet-style communist régimes which were taking control of the states where the hymn was first heard. The Hungarian Baptist Hymnbook contains a translation by Balázs Déri (born in 1954):

Képtalálat a következőre: „Nagy Istenem”

The hymn has been regularly sung in Hungarian Baptist Churches in recent decades, but it’s popularity probably stems, not so much to its sub-Carpathian origins, but to George Beverly Shea (below), the leading vocalist in Billy Graham’s evangelistic team, who was given a copy of it during the London crusade at the Haringey Arena in 1954. It became a favourite of Shea, the team’s choir director, Cliff Barrows and Graham himself, who wrote of it:

The reason I liked “How Great Thou Art!” was because it glorified God: it turned a Christian’s eyes toward God rather than upon himself, as so many songs do.

Képtalálat a következőre: „Stuart K. Hine”

The hymn is still sung, universally, to the beautiful Swedish folk-melody to which Boberg’s original verses were set in 1891. It was the tune that I first fell in love with as a boy soprano when my Baptist minister father introduced my contralto sister and me to the hymn as our entry as a duet into the west Birmingham Baptists’ Eisteddfod (Festival of Arts), which was held during the same year as the lunar landing, my first year of secondary school (1968-69). Looking back, I’m convinced that it was my father’s involvement in the Billy Graham campaign as a young minister in Coventry which encouraged his love of the hymn. When it was sung by the congregation at his second church in Birmingham, he would always provide his own accompaniment on the piano, ensuring that the organist and the congregation did not ‘drag’ the tune and that it kept to a ‘Moody’ style, as in the days of the Graham Crusade.

Its reference to ‘the stars’ as evidence of the works thy hand hath made, inserted by Hine, anticipated the sense of awe and wonder experienced by the astronauts onboard the Apollo missions. Both the words and the music have continued to captivate soloists and congregations alike. Elvis Presley released his version of it, and more recently my favourite Welsh singers, Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins and Aled Jones have also recorded their renditions. It was certainly a favourite of the Baptist congregations I regularly joined during my days as a student in Wales in the seventies, though they had many wonderful tunes of their own, including Hyfrydol, meaning just that. Most recently, the Mormon group, The Piano Guys recorded their ‘crossover’ instrumental version of it on their Wonders album, appropriately combining it with Ennio Morricone’s haunting composition for the film, The Mission, with Jon Schmidt at the piano and Steven Sharp Nelson on cello.

001 002  

Alpha & Omega – In the Beginning and At the End:

For the astronauts on the Apollo 11 Mission, the landing was a profoundly spiritual event, according to their own testimony. They read from the gospel and even celebrated communion (see below). On Sunday (14th July 2019), a service from Leicester Cathedral to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon landings was broadcast on the BBC under the title The Heavens are telling the glory of God. The service celebrated the achievement of the Apollo 11 Mission and asked whether the ‘giant leap’ has made us more, or less aware of our own human limitations and of our longing for God. It was led by the Dean of Leicester, the Very Reverend David Monteith, with contributions from staff at the National Space Centre and Christians involved in Astrophysics and Space Science. The Cathedral Choir led the congregation in hymns including Great Is Thy Faithfulness and The Servant King.

Képtalálat a következőre: „apollo 11”

Graham Kendrick.jpgThe Servant King is one of many worship songs written by Graham Kendrick (born 1950), the son of a Baptist pastor, M. D. Kendrick. Graham Kendrick (pictured right, performing in 2019) began his songwriting career in the late 1960s when he underwent a profound religious experience at teacher-training college. This set him off on his itinerant ministry as a musician, hymn-writer and worship-leader. After working in full-time evangelism for Youth for Christ, with which I had been involved in Birmingham, in 1984 he decided to focus all his energies on congregational worship music. He has also become closely associated with the Ichthus Fellowship, one of the largest and most dynamic of the new house churches to emerge from the charismatic revival.

His most successful musical accomplishment is his authorship of the song, Shine, Jesus, Shine, which is among the most widely heard songs in contemporary Christian worship worldwide. His other songs, like Meekness and Majesty, have been primarily used by worshippers in Britain. Although now best known as a worship leader and writer of worship songs, Graham Kendrick began his career as a member of the Christian beat group Whispers of Truth (formerly the Forerunners). Later, he began working as a solo concert performer and recording artist in the singer/songwriter tradition. He was closely associated with the organisation Musical Gospel Outreach and recorded several albums for their record labels. On the first, Footsteps on the Sea, released in 1972, he worked with the virtuoso guitarist Gordon Giltrap. In 1975 and 1976, he was one of the contributing artists at the second and third Greenbelt Arts Festival at Odell Castle in Bedfordshire. I was present at both of these, and also attended the fortieth, a much bigger event, at Cheltenham (see below) in 2013 where I watched him perform again.

003

Until the advent of Shine Jesus Shine, The Servant King was Graham Kendrick’s most popular song and is still one of the top 10 songs in the CCL (Church Copyright Licence). It was also voted 37th in the 2002 Songs of Praise poll. Written to reflect the theme for the 1984 Spring Harvest Bible teaching event and the Greenbelt Festival later that year, it illustrates Graham’s willingness to research a theme using concordances, commentaries and other biblical research tools. He found the theme very inspiring:

It was a challenge to explore the vision of Christ as the servant who would wash the disciples’ feet but who was also the Creator of the universe.

He wrote both the words and the tune, as with virtually all of his songs, first picking out the tune on the piano at home. It is a short and simple hymn which yet has a wonderful theological sweep and depth. The song is based on an incarnational root and is one of the few songs I know that can be used in worship at Christmas and Easter, and at any time between the two as a call to renewed commitment and discipleship. Its opening line is very reminiscent of Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn, From Heaven Above to Earth I Come, and it goes on to cover the agony of Jesus in the garden of tears and his crucifixion and calls on us to serve him as he did his disciples. I remember a Good Friday ‘service of nails’ in which it featured. It begins with the incarnation – From heaven you came, helpless babe – and progresses to one of Graham’s most poignant lines: Hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered:

From heaven you came helpless babe
Entered our world, your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, the Servant King,

He calls us now to follow him,

To bring our lives as a daily offering

Of Worship to the Servant King.

Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered

It reminds us of the timeless nature of the acts of creation, incarnation and reconciliation, and of the inextricable link between them. Jesus is Alpha and Omega, his hands flinging stars into space, but then enters human time as a helpless babe, with the same hands being used to pin him to the cruel Roman gibbet in a once and for all act of atonement of the whole created order, fallen and the restored. For me, the final lines are among the most poignant and poetic of any hymn or worship song. It is also worthy to stand alongside the great classics of evangelical hymnody by Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley. It is more of a contemporary hymn in this classical tradition than a worship-song. It is addressed to Christ, and both its verses and chorus are cast in strophic, metrical form. Kendrick’s tune is also an unmistakably modern idiom and the resulting hymn does not ‘dumb down’ in terms of its theological subtlety and profundity. Neither does it suffer from the excessive individualism of so many contemporary worship songs. Like Great is Thy Faithfulness and O Lord My God, When I in Awesome Wonder, The Servant King places the paradox of greatness and sacrifice at the centre of the Christian religion as a truly universal faith and practice. Like his Meekness and Majesty, this hymn effectively points up the central paradox that Jesus is both king and servant, priest and victim: the one whose weakness is strength and who conquers through love.

Sources:

Ian Bradley (2005), The Daily Telegraph Book of Hymns. London: Continuum.

Wikipedia articles and pictures (Apollo 11).

Greenbelt memorabilia & DVD.

The Piano Guys, Wonders, album artwork, 2014. THEPIANOGUYS.COM.

 

 

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Desert Island Songs of Praise!   Leave a comment

 

Desert Island Songs of Praise!: My Testimony

There’s a long-running BBC Radio Programme called Desert Island Discs, in which the presenter interviews a different guest each week. The guest has to choose eight ’single’ recordings to take with them to an imaginary desert island, on which they will be ’marooned’ for some months with their collection of discs, a ’luxury’ item, the Bible, the Complete Works of Shakespeare and another book of their choice.  I thought I’d use this format to give you my testimony.

1.)  From Sherwood to Bearwood:

Both my parents were Baptists. They met and married 60 yrs ago in mum’s home City of Coventry – Dad was a steelworker from Wolverhampton, who became a pastor during the war. The motto of the town is, ‘out of darkness comes light’, as the MTK team were told when they visited Woverhampton Wanderers to play a football match to raise money for the Hungarian refugees in 1956.

Mum was the daughter of a coalminer and a ribbon weaver. I was born at home, near Nottingham. We moved to Birmingham when I was  eight and I joined the Boys’ Brigade and took part in Festivals of Arts, Sporting Competitions, Drama and Choirs. We often sang the Boys’ Brigade Anthem, ’Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life?’ based on….

Hebrews 6:19; ’So we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us are greatly encouraged. We have this hope as anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast.’

 

„…erős bátorításunk van nekünk, akik odamenekültünk, hogy belekapaszkodjunk az előttünk levő reménységbe. Ez a reménység lelkünknek biztos és erős horgonya, amely behatol a kárpit mögé.”

 

 

 

 
  
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,

When the clouds unfurl their wings of strife,

When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
 
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
 
 
 
We have an anchor which keeps the soul,
Steadfast and Sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the saviour’s love!
 
 
 

2.)   When I became a teenager, a Caribbean Gospel group came to our church and performed a number of Negro Spirituals and Gospel Songs. At the end of the concert, I gave my life to the Lord andwas baptised on Whit Sunday, just before my fifteenth birthday, almost exactly forty years ago. I became very involved in youth work, forming a rock group, writing musicals and attending Chritian Rock festivals. We were at a ’Youthquake’ event for the city’s young Christians, at the Cathedral, one Saturday night when a huge terrorist bomb exploded in a pub nearby, killing and seriously injuring many young people.  Two of us, both pastors’ sons, began preaching and performing peace songs in B’ham churches. We went on a pilgrimage together to raise money for charity following the hills from the Midlands to the Lake District in northern England, for a distance of 250km along ‘the Pennine Way‘, a long-distance footpath. Every night we read our bibles together, prayed, and washed each other’s feet – Philip had a club foot from birth. We both felt a calling to the ministry, but I decided to qualify as teacher first, in Wales.

Yes! Jesus Loves Me

Yes! Jesus Loves Me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

One of the songs we used in our rock musical was ’Yes, Jesus Loves Me’, which I sang as Phil acted the part of ’Desperate Des’ coming to Christ. The words are based on….

Luke 18:17; Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it!

„Bizony, mondom nektek: aki nem úgy fogadja az Isten országot, mint egy kisgyermek, semmiképpen nem megy be abba.”

Jesus loves me! He who died

 Heaven’s gate to open wide;

He will wash away my sin,

Let his little child come in.

Yes, Jesus loves me! (x3)

The Bible tells me so.

 

3.)   The next stage of my journey took me from to Snowdonia and from those Mountains in North Wales to Iona, a small island off the west coast of Scotland where Celtic Christianity was brought to the Saxons from the sixth century.  At the stone altar, made of a huge rock quarried from the island, I rededicated myself to a ministry of reconciliation.

 
Returning to my university, where there was a lot of conflict about the Welsh Ianguage, I learnt Welsh and became a student leader, making many friends among the Welsh Baptists and Congregationalists I lived and studied with.  However, I became critical of the churches and lost my spiritual direction while a research student in south Wales. It was in my final year in Wales, at a Church College in the west, that both my spiritual and physical health returned, as I began running long distances over the hills and along the river valleys.
 
 
 
 
I became a Religious Education teacher, and began my thirty years in my chosen ’vocation’ at a Church School to the north of  Manchester. There I continued running and walking over the Pennine Hills. The words of Paul to the Hebrews often came to my mind, together with the verse from the hymn based on it:

Hebrews 12.1; ’Let us run with patience the race that is set before us’

„..állhatatossággal fussuk meg az előttünk levő pályát.”

Run the Straight Race,

through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;

Life with its way before thee lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

During my three years there, it was my Christian colleagues who helped to keep me ’on the straight and narrow path’, though we had lots of fun together too, on various school trips. I attended the local Anglican Church, but felt uncomfortable with its hierarchical organisation and very traditional forms of worship.  So I found the local Quaker meeting and began attending as an ’enquirer’ (Quakers have no formal ministers or services).

4.) From the West Pennine Moors to the Hungarian Puszta

……is a long way in the mind and spirit as well as in body. After visiting me in Lancashire and telling me that he thought I was following his ministry in my own vocation, my father’s death took me home to Coventry, where I continued to teach History and RE.  I went to the Baptist Chapel (with mum), but attended Quaker meetings and then worked for them in Birmingham for three years, while finishing my doctorate. As Quaker teachers, we visited Kecskemét in October 1988, and set up an exchange with the local teachers the next year. One of our visits was to the Reformed Church camp at Emmaus, near Lakitelek. As we walked over the sandy puszta, talking about all our experiences in Hungary, we felt the same sense of enthusiasm for the gospel that Cleopas and his fellow disciple must have felt:


’„Maradj velünk, mert esteledik, a nap is lehanyatlott már!” Bement hát, hogy velük maradjon. És amikor asztalhoz telepedett velük, vette a kenyeret, megáldotta, megtörte és felismerték, ő azonban eltűnt előlük. Ekkor így szóltak egymásnak: „Nem hevült-e a szívünk, amikor beszélt hozzánk az úton, amikor feltárta előttünk az írásokat?” ’

Luke 24:29; ’Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ’Wasn’t it like a burning fire within us when he talked to us on the road and opened the scriptures to us? ’

Personally, I was walking in darkness at the time, and meeting and falling in love with Stefi was a clear sign that God’s grace and redemption from sin. The following hymn, based on this passage, promises this:

I need thy presence every passing hour:

What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me!

The hymn, Abide with me, written by the Devon pastor, Henry Lyte, is well-known in Britain, as it has been sung before every Football Association Cup Final since 1927. Another good reason to treasure it!

5.) Love Divine: Marriage in Bournville and Kecskemét:

At the Quaker Meeting held to celebrate and bless our ’forthcoming’ marriage in Birmingham the following January, we were given the advice by a  Hungarian 1956 exile,  to ’live adventurously.’  Since then, we’ve never done anything other than to follow this advice! We also sang ’Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’, Charles Wesley’s great hymn about ’the Greatest Love’ which Paul writes of in…..

1 Corinthians 13:13: ’Meanwhile, these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.’

„Most azért megmarad a hit, a remény, a szeretet, e három; ezek közül pedig a legynagyobb a szeretet.”

Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heav’n to earth come down,

Fix in us thy humble dwelling,

All thy faithful mercies crown,

Jesu, thou art all compassion,

Pure unbounded love thou art,

Visit us with thy salvation,

Enter every trembling heart.

 

 

6.) Freedom in Christ; ‘Out of darkness comes the Light’:

The year after our wedding in Kecskemét, Steffan was born here in Kecskemét. We were ’euphoric’, but only spent a short time in Stefi’s home town before I took up a teaching and pastoral role in Pécs.  Here, the British and American teachers met for English-language ’Sunday School’ in our own homes. My mother’s sudden and unexplained accidental death triggered severe depression, a condition inherited from her, which affected my life for much of the next fifteen years. I attended a ’Freedom in Christ’ course held by our church in Canterbury, which, together with counselling and therapy provided by the Health service, helped me come to terms with this ’dark illness’ which I now know has burdened me since childhood.

Although I still lack self-control at times, regaining self-awareness was like being released from a long prison sentence.  This sense of release was like that written about by Paul in Galatians, on which Wesley based his intensely personal hymn about ’Free Grace’:

Galatians 2:20;  ’So it no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I refuse to reject the Grace of God.’

„Krisztussal együtt keresztre vagyok feszítve: többé tehát nem én élek, hanem Krisztus él bennem; azt az életet pedig, amit most testben élek, az Isten Fiában való hitben élem, aki szeretett engem, és önmagát adta értem.

En nem vetem el az Isten kegyelmet.”

 

 

And can it be, that I should gain?

 Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, –

I woke, the dungeon filled with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

7.) The Wondrous Story: Chosen to Care.

When Stefi became pregnant with our second son we also ’houseparents’ to fifty international students at a Quaker School in the west of England. On weekends off, we worshipped at the local Baptist Church, where I became a member. At twenty weeks, Stefi’s scan revealed that Oliver’s right hand had not developed, and we were also told that he may have other unseen problems, which could only be diagnosed at birth. Devastated by this news, we were visited by our pastor, Stephen. He listened to all our thinking and emotions, without giving opinions or making judgements. When we asked the common question of him, ’why us?’ he paused for thought, and said that God may well have chosen us to be parents to a disabled child because He felt we could cope with difference and disability.

 
 
 
Suddenly, through our tears, we were given a sense of purpose. When Oliver was born, only the fingers on his right hand were missing. As he’s grown, we’ve also realised how much use he has in the remaining part of the hand.

The name of the Welsh tune, Hyfydol, also means ’wonderful’.When Oliver’s dedication was held, we also rededicated ourself as a whole family, reading the following passage from scripture, on which a verse from the hymn, ’Wondrous Story’ is based.

Matthew 18:10-13; ’See that you don’t despise any of these little ones. Their angels in heaven, I tell you, are always in the presence of my Father… What do you think a man does who has one hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep…In just the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost.’

 

„Vigyázzatok, hogy egyet se vessetek meg e kicsinek közül, mert mondom nektek, hogy angyalaik mindenkor látják a mennyben az én mennyei Atyám arcát… Mit gondoltok? Ha egy embernek száz juha van, és eltéved közülük egy, nem hagyja-e ott a kilencvenkilencet a hegyekben, és nem megy-e el megkeresni az eltévedtet?…Ugyanigy a ti mennyei Atyátok sem akarja, hogy elvesszen egy is e kicsinyek közül.”

I was lost but Jesus found me,

Found the sheep that went astray,

Raised me up and gently led me,

Back into the narrow way.

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story,

Of the Christ who died for me,

Sing it with the saints in glory,

Gathered round the crystal sea.

 

8.) The ‘Enchanted Ground’; Bunjan Zarándokútja:

I said at the beginning that, besides the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, I am allowed to take one other book to the desert island. This would be ’Pilgrim’s Progress’ by the seventeenth-century Bedford Baptist preacher, John Bunyan. Although I listened to and watched the story as a teenager, and have taught it in Literature classes, I’ve never read it cover to cover. Also, apart from its simple, beautiful English, it was the one book which, beside the Bible, could be found on the shelf of almost every English cottage, including my great-grandparents’.

A Zarándok Útja a Biblia mellett a világ legolvasottabb könyve. Ez azértkülönös, mert ennek a klasszikus műnek az iírója egy üstfoltozó volt, aki alig tudott írni és olvasni.

The hymn, ’To be a Pilgrim’, is based on a poem which appears in the narrative near the end of the long pilgrimage, when the pilgrims have reached ’the enchanted ground’. Mr Valiant-for-truth introduces it with the words: ’I believed, and therefore came out, got into the way, fought all that set themselves against me, and, by believing, am come to this place.’

„Hittem így elindultam a zarándokuton, leküzdöttem minden nehézséget, ami utamba került, és hitem által eljutottam e helyre.”

He who would valiant be

’Gainst all disaster,

Let him in constancy

Follow the master;

There’s no discouragement,

Shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.

 

 

So, by believing, I have come to this place, this ’enchanted ground’, because I believe this is where God needs me to be. The title of Bunyan’s other book, ’Grace abounding to the chief of sinners’, sums up what I feel about my own pilgrimage. I am here, in this enchanted place, despite my own failings and because of his grace, and I have been made to feel most welcome….

Andrew J Chandler

Kecskemét, Hungary, June 2012

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