A Hymn for the Diamond Jubilee of Coventry Cathedral (May 2022)

This was written for Coventry Cathedral, as the final hymn of their diamond jubileee celebration service, on 25th May 2022. The first, second and final verse are suitable for any service on the general themes of reconciliation, forgiveness, diversity, and so on. The third verse is particularly suitable for the Cathedral, reflecting on the history of that specific building and how destruction paved the way for its ministry of reconciliation. Most of the scriptural, cultural and theological references are probably fairly obvious, but if anyone would like me to provide a short commentary, I’d be very happy to do so.

Be in our midst, and gather us together,
and let your loving-kindness be our guide,
Help us discern your image in each other,
and walk with humble footsteps by your side.
Send us to work, O Lord, Almighty Giver,
‘till all who thirst and hunger now are filled,
Let justice thunder like a mighty river,
And let the storms of strife and conflict now be stilled.

When all the world’s great sorrows overtake us,
and we are crushed by centuries of pain,
lend us your strength, and lovingly remake us
that by your grace we may be whole again.
And when the sins of passing generations
make all the wounds of hist’ry still feel raw,
send out your healing power among the nations,
and fill this broken earth with heaven’s peace once more.

*A verse for the Cathedral only  
And if the cross, the site of such destruction,
a sign of violence, suffering and sin,
can be redeemed to witness resurrection,
and be a place where life can still begin,
then iron and wood and stone can sing their stories:
‘Father, forgive’ these very walls have prayed,
that what was lost could birth still brighter glories,
and what was hurt can be transfigured and remade.

Grant us that peace beyond the mind’s discerning,
Help us to live the truth that sets us free.
And may the Spirit’s fire within us burning
help us become who we are called to be.
In eager longing for your new creation,
a world reshaped by love and hope and grace,
with Christ the Prince of Peace as our foundation,
we’ll build your kingdom now, in this and every place.

Tune: Londonderry Air (11.10.11.10.11.10.11.12)

Women of Holy Week

As we prepare to enter Holy Week, I wanted to post something about the wonderful collection of stories by Paula Gooder, which explore the events of Holy Week and Easter through the eyes of nine of the women. It was my absolute joy and privilege to provide the artwork for the book.
You can buy the book directly from Church House Publishing (and from other online and high street bookshops) and you can also download the pictures (for a limited time only) so you can use them in your own personal reflections or in Church over Holy Week and beyond.

New hymn: you made a universe so full of wonder

Really delighted to have two hymns in the new collection from Jubilate, ‘Hymns for our contemporary world’, which aims to resource churches in responding to some urgent and critical themes in contemporary life but which are not widely addressed in traditional hymnody. The first one has just been released, and explores environmental themes from a political, social and economic perspective. It can be sung to ‘Finlandia’ but has also had a beautiful new tune written especially for it by Peter Burton.
You can watch the lyric video, download the words and sheet music on the Jubilate website.

You made a universe so full of wonder, 
gave us a world to cherish and to hold.
But we have treated it as ours to plunder:
what you gave freely, we have bought and sold.
What you made perfect, we have torn asunder:
do not, O Lord, your healing power withhold.

In generous love, the pattern of your caring,   
we have been blessed with more than we could need.
But we have hoarded what was meant for sharing,
corrupting what you gave as fruitful seed;
and still it is your poorest children bearing
the cost of all our selfishness and greed.

We hear the voice that calls our generation,
the urgent cry of beauty scarred by pain.
Our lives must change in this and every nation
so prayer and action shall not be in vain;
we pledge to live in ways of restoration
until your earth is whole and good again.

Copyright (c) Ally Barrett/Jubilate
(as with all my Jubilate hymns, this is covered by CCLI so will need to go on your annual return).

Do not be overwhelmed…

I don’t often write music, but yesterday I sat down and wrote this very short setting of one of my favourite texts, which I believe is from the Talmud:

Do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s grief:
walk humbly now, love mercy now, do justly now.
You are not expected to complete the work
but neither are you free to abandon it.

You can listen to a computer generated audio of the music
and click below to download the sheet music.

Watch this space

I had an idea for an Advent reflective resource on the theme ‘Watch this space’ and wrote it up originally for Advent Online, but it didn’t really fit the thematic structure for AO, so here it is now, in case it’s useful to those planning the rest of Advent and Christmas in church. As always, help yourself.