Think again
 If the extent 
 of our sacrificial content 
 is to give up chocolate for Lent, 
 what kind of a sacrifice is that?
 If the inclination 
 of our celebration 
 is for a self-centred commemoration 
 for the current congregation, 
 what good is that to God,
 or anyone else?
 If a Holy Day 
 becomes a holiday 
 with the holiness left out, 
 where has the significance gone?
 God sighs for the real sacrifice 
 of working to eliminate poverty and injustice.
 God craves for the genuine celebrations 
 of people set free and of changed lives.
 God holds out hope 
 for those who make holiness their aim, 
 however far they still have to travel.
 God asks us to think again.
 © Marjorie Dobson 

 Empty words 

 Empty words
 from those who live in luxury 
 and despise the poor.
 Empty words 
 from those who enquire after the sick, 
 but never visit them.
 Empty words 
 from those who offer hollow sympathy, 
 but never weep with those in sorrow.
 Empty words 
 from those who are severely critical 
 of local and national governments, 
 but refuse to vote, 
 or to become involved in politics.
 Empty words 
 from those who proclaim themselves 
 to be Christians, 
 but only take care of themselves 
 and their own kind.
 Empty words 
 from those who preach 
 of suffering and sacrifice, 
 but have never challenged themselves 
 to experience either.
 Empty words from those … …
 Empty words … …
 Empty … …
 And God, 
 who knows our hearts, 
 looks on 
 and asks us to look again 
 at the sacrificial love of Jesus 
 and to fill our empty words 
 with love and action.
 Marjorie Dobson 
 Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, copyright@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. 
 Spirited dancer

 Spirited dancer, a pantomime figure,
 comic, distorted, misused and abused;
 never expedient, yet working with rigour,
 seemingly foolish yet never confused.
 Crying the wilderness down on your shoulders,
 offering pedants the cool time of day;
 I would dance with you, by paths or rough boulders,
 willing to enter the fun or the fray.
 Now in my cowardice, fear, apprehension,
 sharing the life that you've given to me;
 help me to put away pride and pretension,
 learn in your footsteps the way to be free.
Andrew E. Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2003, 2006 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@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.
METRE: 11 10 11 10

Rebuilding starts with weeping – Amanda Udis – Kessler sung by Reba Sigler

Amanda Udis-Kessler (Colorado Springs) words, on the prompting of John Churcher (United Kingdom), have now been recorded by Canadian, Reba Sigler, who is also an opera singer. The wonders of internet communication! The recording can be found here - Reba Sigler sings Amanda Udis-Kessler's Rebuilding starts with weeping.

US hymnwriter and sacred music composer Amanda Udis-Kessler wrote the text just after the 2020 US Presidential Election and has re-shared it following the violence at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. I have asked and been granted permission to reproduce it here. It is pertinent in the US context but also in the UK and Europe through pandemic and Brexit. Do visit her site - link below.
Rebuilding starts with weeping, with tears that fall like rain,  
With full and honest grieving for years of loss and pain,  
For suffering and sorrow that never had to be.  
Rebuilding starts with weeping for all who are not free.  
Rebuilding starts with praying, with hopes allowed a voice,   
With visions for our country, with reason to rejoice.  
We offer up our spirits, our hearts and minds and hands.  
Rebuilding starts with praying for strength to heal our land.  
Rebuilding starts with loving, with care for every soul,   
With yearning in compassion that all may yet be whole,  
That enemy and neighbor may know a better day. 
Rebuilding starts with loving, for love will show the way 

It is most often sung to the Bach Passion Chorale.

Amanda’s many other inclusive hymns, worship songs, and rounds are freely available for listening and download at https://queersacredmusic.com

Great God, your love has held our lives – Words to Parry’s Jerusalem

Great God, your love has held our lives
through all the years down to this day.
Your constant presence held us fast:
remain with us we plead and pray.
We’ve seen the ruins left by war,
the tumbled buildings, street by street;
some heard the voices that they loved
and cried for those they’d no more meet.

As time moves on some memories fade,
some griefs we shared lie in the past;
for others pain is just as sharp,
we know their hurt will always last.
Some human acts have swept away
our partners, parents, children, friends,
some people we had never known;
the memory lives and never ends.

Beyond this day we try to live:
a sinew of each life survives,
but where is God in hurt and hate?
The questions stay to haunt our lives.
Help us to build a better world
not fuelled by vengeance, fed by greed;
a world in which we all can live,
what ever colour, race or creed.

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) Words © 2015 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.

The pandemic calls for closed hymnals

This article by L. Roger Owens is an interesting reflection for those who are finding the ban on singing in church problematic –

The pandemic calls for closed hymnals

L. Roger Owens teaches Christian spirituality and ministry at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is author of Threshold of Discovery: A Field Guide to Spirituality in Midlife


Can You Hear Me? – composed by Thomas Hewitt Jones

Beautiful music for a time of lockdown – soothing – YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSyzRn2Jmuo&mc_cid=4e79d8733c&mc_eid=74ccc3627b

Last week, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, the Choir of Royal Holloway and soprano Laura Wright released a single by award-winning composer Thomas Hewitt Jones and lyricist Matt Harvey.

On Tuesday, Thomas asked if we (Stainer & Bell Ltd) could make a voice and piano arrangement available for sale in download and printed formats. We were delighted to help and in just a few hours managed to produce, publish and begin taking orders.

By the following day, the song had received over 150k views on Facebook and YouTube and it had gone straight in at number one in the iTunes Classical Singles chart.

The voice and piano arrangement is available here and full choral arrangements of the hit song will appear shortly.

The group are donating all proceeds from the track to Stay Strong, a campaign that aims to connect those suffering from various mental health issues during the coronavirus lockdown with relevant charities.