Idyllic beaches break the waves – a hymn relating to migration and asylum – sadly still pertinent..

These images will not be diminished by persecuting migrants, nor by making a false distinction between those seeking asylum and so called economic migrants. We need to welcome as fellow human beings people coming to our shores who are fleeing fear or poverty and to provide them with safe passage to our shores and a humanitarian reception.

1	Idyllic beaches break the waves 
	as bathers line the shore
	This view of peace is now disturbed:
	an aftermath of war.
	The ones who fled from lives they knew 
	have gone in fear and dread, 
	the ships that offered hope to them 
	are sunk with many dead.
 
2	And where is God amid the swell 
	where tides still ebb and flow,
	unfeeling of this loss of life,
	as others come and go?
	The commerce of the world goes on. 
	Can we ignore the pain?
	It is as though we're blind to see 
	Christ crucified again.
 
3	The ones who drown are ones we own 
	as neighbours we should love;
	how can we turn our eyes away, 
	avert our gaze above?
	For when our politics conspires 
	to shut the door to grace 
	it is as though we turn away 
	from Jesus' tortured face.

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.

CMD
Tune: KINGSFOLD

 

On the sidewalk – a song of poverty and loneliness

I am posting this midway through Christian Aid Week. We tend to focus on needs which are abroad. Often there are people on our doorstep, in villages, towns and cities where we live who have needs which are profound. Perhaps this is where we will meet Christ. This song was written form the perspective of such a person. Hal Hopson set it with a tune for America. Some years later a (now retired) Methodist Presbyter set it and recorded it and it was published in his book, Reach.

1	On the sidewalk, by the shop-front 
        [On the pavement, by the shop-front - alt line]
	I laid down my mat to sleep;
	tears of sadness welled within me,
	thoughts of all that might have been.

2	Lost within this hidden city
	where the subway hums and groans,
	left unnoticed and defenceless,
	God forsaken and alone.

3	Can you sense my thrumming heart-beat,
	can you feel a reason why
	in your wealth you're just as lonely,
	waiting for your time to die?

4	Maybe I should look more clearly
	through the eyes of given hope,
	maybe you could stoop more lowly
	that together we may cope.

Andrew E Pratt; Words © 2002 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: 8 7 8 7 Trochaic
Tunes: RECONCILIATION (Hopson) published in Whatever Name or Creed, 2002.
SIDEWALK (Sharrocks) © 2010 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk  
published in Reach with accompanying CD.
A recording from the CD can be found here.

Rich and poor – So sad that this poem is still pertinent after 174 years?

"How little can the rich man know
Of what the poor man feels,
When Want, like some dark dæmon foe,
Nearer and nearer steals!

He never tramp'd the weary round,
A stroke of work to gain,
And sicken'd at the dreaded sound
Telling him 'twas in vain.

Foot-sore, heart-sore, he never came
Back through the winter's wind,
To a dark cellar, there no flame,
No light, no food, to find.

He never saw his darlings lie
Shivering, the flags their bed;
He never heard that maddening cry,
'Daddy, a bit of bread!'"

William Gaskell (in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, 1848) 

Hymn for Jesus Manifesto – Luke 4: 14 – 21

In Nazareth it happened,
folk heard with bated breath,
the good news Jesus offered 
of life instead of death.

This was the manifesto:
a charter for the poor,      
a welcome for the stranger 
who’d waited at the door.

Within a cell the captive 
would hear the freedom call,
and those who felt injustice
know healing was for all.

Oppression would be banished.
Yet hypocrites recoiled,
drove Jesus from their presence, 
but he would not be foiled.

And in this time and context 
will we still have to wait,
or dare we risk and follow, 
before it is too late?
Andrew Pratt 17/1/2022
Words © 2022 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: 7.6.7.6
Tune: THE CHERRY TREE CAROL (repeat last two lines of each verse)
Based on Luke 4: 14 – 30 (the Lectionary for this coming Sunday is Luke 4: 14 – 21)
An alternative version below follows a slightly different rhythm.

Alternative words:

In Nazareth it happened,
the folk held their breath;
the good news Jesus offered 
was life instead of death.

And this was the promise:
a gift for the poor,      
a welcome for the stranger 
who’d waited at the door.

Within a cell the captive 
would hear freedom call,
and those who felt injustice
know healing was for all.

Oppression would be banished,
hypocrites recoiled,
drove Jesus from their presence, 
but he would not be foiled.

And in this time and context 
we still have to wait;
or dare we risk and follow, 
before it is too late?
Andrew Pratt 17/1/2022
Words © 2022 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,

A tension stalked the stage – another Advent/Christmas hymn

The gospel reading of the Fourth Sunday in Advent tells of the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth and Mary’s prophetic song which we know as the Magnificat (Luke 1: 39-55). This Sunday’s hymn reaches further than this. It has for its background an occupied country, a census involving a journey and the song of a young woman which anticipates the birth of a child who will bring radical challenge and change to the world – if only we would hear and follow him…

A tension stalked the stage, 
an occupying force, 
and in this context Mary sang. 
The world could alter course.
Once humbled by her God, 
demeaned, yet she felt blessed, 
her life now mingled joy and pain, 
from now she'd never rest.

And those in every age 
are challenged by her song, 
the paupers free to pray again - 
for those who did them wrong;
while princes are appalled,
for those who once held power 
will find their status racked right down, 
and that within this hour.

For where injustice meets 
with worship lived and prayed, 
the social order swings around, 
the powerful are dismayed;
and that includes us all, 
our power is sapped away, 
while genuine humility 
at last will have its day.

Andrew E Pratt 
Words © 2015 © 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: DSM
Tune: LEOMINSTER