Thursday, May 04, 2006

...till all our strivings cease

Dear Lord and Father of Mankind is a famous and much-loved hymn. I can see some of the attraction - in a busy world it reminds us of the importance of reflection on God, of silence, of peace. It's a good sentiment and a lovely tune.

Just a few quibbles with it...

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

What the hymn seems to be aiming for isn't total rest in God, it's total rest with God but on our terms.

Why else "all our strivings"? Or should we not be striving for God's glory? Was Paul wrong to strive (1 Tim 4:10)?

Is the ideal Christian someone who spends their lives in quiet contemplation, or someone who labours and strives? Probably a bit of both, but that's not what the hymn seems to be aiming for. I therefore propose an ammended version.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The passions of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till godless strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Transform the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

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