An early “hymn of the week” because we are away in Cornwall for a week, and will not be in e-contact! The selection of this hymn (and a bonus chorus) are inspired by the location to which we are going, and the reminders it creates. It may not be a familiar hymn to many, and to appreciate the significance some background ambience needs to be created. Transport yourself to a youth club hall. Add 40 “lads” aged between 9 and 18. Add 20 “leaders” mostly in their twenties, but a few older. Add one slightly out of tune piano, and an enthusiastic pianist playing this hymn, to the tune of “For all the saints”, at about 2-3 times normal pace. Everyone is singing at pretty much full volume – if not necessarily in tune.
It might be at the end of August, start of September. Most of those present have got back from the fortnight long annual summer camp of the group (and by camp I mean a proper 2 week long under canvas camp with no hot water on tap, not one of those soft, spend 10 days in a rather nice boarding school sort of “camp”). Newly washed and rested, everyone is unrecognizable from the previous two weeks, but are reminded of the days just gone by the smell of the yet to be unpacked kit.
A hymn like the one below recalls all the experience of living out of doors for two weeks, and, since camp was always spent on a western coast of the UK (Cornwall or Wales) this usually included quite a lot of weather. One night would always have literally been spent under the stars, often on a nearby beach, so creation was vividly in the memory. It was in that context that the great truths which the last two verses speak of were imprinted on the mind of the “lads” – through morning talks, 4 evening meetings during camp, and “tent chats” in the evening where in the dim light of a gas lamp hearts were unburdened, questions asked, and friendships formed and Jesus made real. The reward for those who measured the time spent as leaders on camps in terms of whole years will not be fully seen until eternity reveals the impact of lives changed by those weeks. I for one would not be the same without them.
It is those weeks which come back to my mind as we head off for a family holiday tomorrow. I love the North Cornish coast, for me it ranks second only to the Lakes in the UK for beauty with its rugged cliffs, its golden sands, and its foaming waves. The wonders of the creation lead me back to the one who made it all – and who came to live in it – to praise and adore him, and put my worries in some sort of perspective. It is in that spirit that I offer this hymn to lead you to enjoy creation, and worship our great creator and saviour.
- For all the glories of the earth and sky.
For night’s soft voice and morning’s silent haze,
For trees that whisper and for winds that sigh,
We give you praise.
- For summer sunshine and for cooling showers,
For stars that light the heavens’ darkening maze,
For dewdrops sparkling on the new-born flowers,
Our hearts would praise.
- For lightning’s flash and thunder’s echoing roar,
For seas that beat upon their endless ways,
For wild wave’s anthem on a rock-bound shore
We offer praise.
- For mighty mountains and eternal snows,
Enduring changeless through the changing days,
For moon-lit valleys and for sunset glows
accept our praise.
- But for that great redeeming work of Yours,
Our souls their loftiest hymn of thanks would raise
For free salvation, through a love divine,
We give You praise.
- For all the matchless wonders of Your grace
Seen in that cross on which we humbly gaze
For peace and pardon to a fallen race
Your Name we praise.
Since I am unashamedly in nostalgic mood in this post it remains only to also offer you the chorus below. The rhyme isn’t up to much. The words only just fitted the tune, but it was written for the youth organisation in question (name is given away at the end – now changed – thankfully – to Urban Saints) and inspired me when I first sung it, and still does. Change the last two words to “good and faithful servant” and the chorus becomes universal. I cannot imagine any better words to hear than the divine “well done” – I long that it would be said of me as a husband, a father, and in all I do.
The Lord has need of me, His soldier I will be, He gave himself my life to win, And so I mean to follow him, And serve him faithfully, And though the fight be fierce and long, I’ll carry on he makes me strong, And then one day his face I’ll see and O the joy when he says to me, “Well done my brave Crusader”