At the turning of the year…

The danger of a storm of cliches hovers in the wings…
metaphors mix it with each other…
tides turn, seas ebb…
moons set, suns rise…
worlds spin on their axes…

Strange that marking a year’s end
and a new beginning
feels like a monument rising,
a tower falling,
a significant event
when naming of days is arbitrary.

The rev-counting globe,
moon’s phases
are built in,
each day the same,
undifferentiated.

So why this apprehension?

Why my uncertainty?

Fear,
that death is nearer than it was?

Arrogance,
importing significance to tasks left incomplete?

The intractable magnetism of mystery,
drawing and repelling?

The cliches are gathering…

Andrew Pratt 27/12/2018

Indonesia/Krakatoa tsunami 23 December 2018 – a hymn for times of natural disaster

Tectonic plates beneath the ocean’s surface,
uplifted, twisting life and limb and wave.
The landscape that was home has lost its features,
destruction means that few are left to save.

An empty chair amid such devastation
where cars like toys, are lifted, spun about;
and here we wait and pray in helpless anguish;
and ‘where is God’ we want to cry and shout.

Incarnate God we need your present spirit
to live within your people at this time,
to energise our prayerful words and actions,
to offer grace to life’s discordant rhyme.

God offer hope to those who feel forsaken,
to those whose lives have spun and turned around;
to those whose grief defies all consolation,
bring grace and love and hope and solid ground.

Andrew Pratt originally written 13/3/2011
Tune: INTERCESSOR or LORD OF THE YEARS
Words © Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England,
http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Translated into Japanese and sung on Sunday 20th March 2011 in Holy Trinity Church, Tokyo.

Simply love in all its glory – new hymn for Christmas

Simply love in all its glory,
simply love with all its pain,
we retell the age-old story
masked in myth to take the strain:
strain of human understanding,
God with us, Immanuel named,
cosmic Christ with angels standing
round a crib: creation tamed.

Look with eyes not masked by history,
not constrained by things we’ve heard,
not obscured by fact or mystery,
so remote to seem absurd:
Jesus born a human being,
living love and hope and grace,
no more veiled, but clearly seeing,
meeting us in every face.

Andrew Pratt 10/12/2018

Tune: CALON LAN

Words © 2018 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England,
http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Persephone – winter solstice – turn of the year

Persephone, they said, delved deep through winter’s scold.
The leaves of autumn fell, condemned to mould,
a burial deep, seemed permanent and cold.

And so it was till snow had fallen,
frosted soil had hardened into stone,
a frozen, hurtful bed,
where all seemed dark and dead.

Incomprehensibly, some life still lurked within this frigid earth,
and, hidden still, green shoots would come to birth.

And so, they said, reflecting, Persephone would rise,
beneath the early skies of lengthening days.
Experience led this hope,
but other days would sound a different song.

Divine interpretation sees, in nature, re-creation,
an annual resurrection,
a seasonal response to winter’s dereliction.

And as the seasons turn a spirit still may burn,
and breath may move and breathe,
a song may ring where cold and void and chaos rules,
to usher in God’s Spring.
© Andrew Pratt 2/6/2017

Christmas – The God of cosmic question – quasars, quarks, pulsars

The God of cosmic question
Surprises by a birth,
Not in some new dimension
But on this ravaged earth!

In quasars, quarks and pulsars
We seek the cosmic truth:
The ground of our existence
That set creation loose,

And human senses lead us,
Through all they analyse,
From arrogance to wonder,
To spiritual surprise.

But senses have their limits:
Unanswered still there lies
The single, deepest question
Our intellect supplies.

Yet history proffers insight:
The Christ of time and space
Speaks of a God incarnate
Born in a squalid place.

Alive within our compass,
Upon this ravaged earth,
The God of cosmic question
Surprises us in birth!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) (amended 2019 by author)
© 1991 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.