Reclaiming ‘How great Thou art’

When Carl Boberg wrote the hymn that we know as How great Thou art’ it was, I believe, written in Swedish. Some of the wonder and beauty of that hymn has survived in the English translation which is most widely used. Sadly, for me, some of that English version has unaccountably veered into a penal substitutionary mode. Having lost a son aged 22 I cannot sing verses which speak of a God as ‘great’ who has sacrificed his son. If this is how a ‘Father God’ behaves I want none of it. In addition it rides light to the incarnation, to God dying, Jurgen Moltmann’s crucified God.

I am aware of the theological gymnastics that people employ to get round this, but why when Atonement theories, are just that. Why not simply return to a translation that more clearly reflects Boberg’s original? Thanks to for offering E. Gustav Johnson’s translation

When I behold His Son to earth descending,
to help and heal and teach distressed mankind;
When evil flees and death in fear is bending
before the glory of the Lord divine,

With rapture filled, my soul Thy name would laud,
O mighty God! O mighty God!
With rapture filled, my soul Thy name would laud,
O mighty God! O mighty God!

When, crushed by guilt of sin, before Him kneeling
I plead for mercy and for grace and peace,
I feel His balm and, all my bruises healing,
He saves my soul and sets my heart at ease.

Author: Carl Boberg; Translator: E. Gustav Johnson

Translation by E. Gustav Johnson (1893–1974) From accessed 9/6/2014.

Presidency joins call for more support for people on the lowest incomes

Quoted from a letter to the Prime Minister signed by Faith leaders including the President and Vice-President of the Methodist Conference

It is the urgent, moral responsibility of the Prime Minister to ensure that people on the lowest incomes have enough to live in the months ahead. Spiralling costs are affecting everyone, but for those who were already fighting to keep their heads above water, this winter’s challenges will be a matter of life and death.”

See the full letter here

For deeper love we share the bread – Jim Burklo

As Jim says, I share..

Words by Jim Burklo
(Use freely, with attribution)
Tune: O Waly Waly (Welsh folk tune) — also known as The Water Is Wide  (listen to James Taylor’s performance of it)
Alternative tune:“Jerusalem” – an unofficial anthem of England 

For deeper love we share the bread
I won’t be full till all are fed
Till every soul has home and bed
The rest of us can’t move ahead

For deeper love we share the wine
I cannot taste the love divine
Till every soul has walked the line
And you’ve had yours as I’ve had mine

Now Mary sings her birthing song
Till every voice can sing along
And voices weak will rise up strong
Her choir is one where all belong

No one’s saved till all are healed
As Jesus on the Mount revealed
Your life and mine forever sealed
Just like the lilies of the field

We follow where the Christ has led
To table that for all is spread
And no one’s sitting at the head
But deeper love in wine and bread….


Senior Associate Dean, Office of Religious Life,
University of Southern California

Ralph Vaughan Williams – I anticipate an interesting lecture…

Marking the 150th Anniversary of the Birth of Ralph Vaughan Williams on 12th October 1872 at Down Amney, Gloucestershire, our Hymn Society member, John Crothers, will be delivering a Lecture, as part of the Islington Proms, on Monday, 12th September at St James’ Church, Prebend Street, Islington, London N1 starting at 7.30 pm.

The Lecture is entitled:

Ralph Vaughan Williams: An unlikely visionary  

(What drove Vaughan Williams, a ‘cheerful agnostic’, to spend three years editing The English Hymnal?)

Tickets cost £5.00 and may be booked online or purchased at the door on the evening of the event.

As an optional extra, preceding the Lecture at 4.30 pm (for which admission is FREE), is a screening of  O Thou Transcendent: The Life of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Tony Palmer’s full-length film biography of the composer.