Special Purpose Hymns

Special Purpose Hymns

Some very special ‘progressive’ hymns I have picked up along the way.
Permission to use must be obtained from the authors.
At the time of original listing of some of these hymns (2009) they were not published in a different medium and under different copyright arrangements.

Contacts:
• Shirley Murray -  serenam@paradise.net.nz
• Andrew Pratt -  andrewpratt@btconnect.com
• Norman Habel - nhabel@bigpond.com

For special hymns on World War 1 written by Andrew Pratt, visit his blog site: http://hymnsandbooks.blogspot.co.uk/  

1. Bush(Brush)fire

Now Thank We All Our God”  (Tune: ‘Nun Danket’)
Now thank we all our God
for lives beloved and cherished,
the brave who faced the flames,
the young and old who perished,
for those who fight the fires
that sear our country’s soul,
for all who give relief
to comfort and make whole.

No tears can stem this grief
through outback, town or city,
yet as disaster strikes,
we share a common pity,
where hearts and hands can help
to build or recreate,
our nation stands as one
to mourn our people's fate.

Our lives are held in trust,
O God of our believing,
and we who still are spared,
owe duty to the grieving,
for everyone is kin
when all can feel this pain,
as families are gone
and shattered ones remain.

Now thank we all our God
for courage meeting danger,
when selfless spirits fight
for mate or helpless stranger,
when wind and bushfire flare
and terror grips our faith,
compassion keeps us strong,
through tragedy and death.
(© Shirley Erena Murray 2009)

About Copyright:
Shirley Murray writes… “© Copyright for Australia (as well as New Zealand and all of Asia) - I give free permission of use. Rest of the World - © Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, USA. Additional condition… They are to be copied exactly as written, without alteration. In all cases author’s full name to be acknowledged.”

Black Saturday(Tune: ‘Amazing Grace’)
Amazing flames that scorch the sky,
Like hurricanes of fire,
Alive with eucalyptus oil,
Are roaring higher and higher.

These swirling balls of oil ablaze,
That leap o’er trees at will,
Descend on fields and flock and homes,
Explode and bum and kill.

Where's God in all this swirling ash?
Where's God in all this pain?
Awaiting somewhere in the sky
To one day send some rain?

The face of God is burnt and black;
The hands of God are red!
The God we know in Jesus Christ
Is bleeding with the dead.

Is this, O God, the shock we need
To face our life ahead,
Adjusting to a Greenhouse Age
When we must share our bread?

Christ, show us now your hands and feet,
The burns across you side
To show you suffer with the Earth,
By fires crucified! (© Norman Habel, 2009)

2. Tsunami, Storms/Cyclones

We Understand Tectonic Plates(Tune: 588 MHB, Sheltered Dale 86 86 86) 
We understand tectonic plates
that move beneath our feet.
We understand that powerful waves
make rivers in the street.
But when we try to centre God
our sense is incomplete.

To say creation points to God
will never make real sense
except within a frame of faith,
outside it brings offence.
Our claim is more than paradox
within this present tense.

And so we struggle with the facts
that contradict belief
until we find a greater truth
we never find relief.
Reason and revelation clash
and die in disbelief.

We honour God for all that is
and all that is to be.
We may not understand God's ways,
until eternity.
But love is stronger than belief
and faith can help us see
. © Andrew Pratt, 2004

When Every Source Of Hope Is Torn(Tune: Abingdon)
When every source of hope is torn
by storms we strain to understand;
when children queue for all their needs,
and water drowns out fertile land,
we cry to you O God in prayer
and wonder if your love is there.

Amid the cyclone’s aftermath,
where fallen trees and shattered lives
are witness to this tragedy,
we pray that human strength survives,
while children weep and grown men cry,
where homes are gone and thousands die.

For mile on mile the floods are seen,
with roads and bridges swept away,
while people struggle, bleed or mourn,
while hoping for a better day.
God show us how to help and heed
the cry of neighbours in such need.
© Andrew Pratt 5/5/2008

Homes That Once Held Joy And Laughter”  (Tune: 87 87 87 87)
Homes that once held joy and laughter, 
faces we no longer see, 
all are smeared by this disaster, 
torn by common tragedy. 
Death has come, and faith is broken, 
love has little courage left, 
God we cry in desolation, 
hold us as we stand bereft. 

As we stand by one another, 
fractured by this common grief, 
with your grace and love enfold us, 
hold us, heal our disbelief; 
hold us crippled by this sorrow, 
hold us till the crying clears, 
hold us through each frail tomorrow, 
through this cavalcade of fears. 

Here amid this desecration, 
mid the wreckage of our lives, 
where despair hangs like a shadow, 
hardly any hope survives. 
All our wealth, our worldly riches, 
cannot stem this sense of pain; 
so, confronted by this horror, 
God, give grace to build again
. © Andrew Pratt 10/9/2005 

Sometimes We Feel The Utter Loss(Tune: 88 88)
Sometimes we feel such utter loss
confronted by the world's despair,
the scenes of human agony,
of lives destroyed, of absent care.

When Jesus touched a broken man,
despised because of leprosy,
he felt his hurt and shared his pain,
and challenged our hypocrisy.

Yet still we watch and wring our hands,
avoid responsibility,
but if we felt another's pain,
our lives would act in sympathy.

So while we share this agony
half understanding pained despair,
O God give loving empathy,
at least enable active prayer. (© A
ndrew Pratt 10/9/2005

"In Every Face We See The Pain" (Tune: 'Kingsfold', 86 86D. 585 TiS)
In every face we see the pain
of grief and human loss;
the hell we cannot understand,
we cannot count the cost.
Beneath the sea the cooling earth,
had risen, ruptured, torn.
Creation raised its voice and cried,
a tidal wave was born.

And was God mid-wife at the birth
confounding our belief?
Or is our God outside the frame,
removed from human grief?
For ages we have tried and failed
to understand this flaw,
that God should let such evil rise,
while mixing love and awe.

If God is here where bodies rise
in piles along the shore,
where is the mercy, grace and love
of which we should be sure?
We plead for love, we long for grace,
to help us, where they fell,
to grasp the reason for this pain,
this cavalcade of hell.

Then give us strength to rise again,
enlivened by your hope,
and for the present show your love
and give us grace to cope.
God come and join your people in
the centre of their loss.
If you are real then show yourself
upon this present cross.
© Andrew Pratt

3. Earthquakes

Chinese Earthquake(Tune: 88 88)
If God created all we see
then ours is still a timeless cry;
we cannot understand God's sense;
we ask again the reason why.

Was this prefigured by a cross,
this site of human agony;
the tumbled timbers, broken walls,
where people struggle to be free?

This cannot be the way of God,
yet God is in this quaking mess,
is in the people crying out
in pain and terminal distress.

God seeks the dying, nail pierced hands
reach deep within this grief and loss.
Our every word or touch of love
speaks of the gift of grace and cross. 
© Andrew Pratt 16/8/2007

If God Created All We See(Tune: 88 88)
If God created all we see
then ours is still a timeless cry;
we cannot understand God's sense;
we ask again the reason why.

Was this prefigured by a cross,
this site of human agony; 
the tumbled timbers, broken walls,
where people struggle to be free?

This cannot be the way of God,
yet God is in this quaking mess,
is in the people crying out
in pain and terminal distress.

God seeks the dying, nail pierced hands
reach deep within this grief and loss,
and every word or touch of love
speaks of the gift of grace and cross.
© Andrew Pratt 16/8/2007

Chilean Earthquake(Tune: “Gonfalon Royal”, 88 88, 332 TiS)
Is this the judgement of a God,
a God who wind and waves obey?
Where is compassion, grace and love
when earthquakes, death and fear hold sway?

Here we have watched in helplessness,
here we have wondered, 'are we right?'
What is the logic of this loss?
Grace is removed from human sight.

We know this world is finely set,
this globe is tuned for life and birth.
Tectonic plates that drift and shift
create the chance of life on earth.

There is no other way to be.
Our God of power, God of cross,
knows human pain and shares our fear
in frail communion and loss  (© Andrew Pratt 28/2/2010)

Nepal Lament”  (Tune: “Orangerie” LMD. John R Kleinheksel Sr.)
Canyons heave and mountains tumble,
earth beneath will shift and rumble,
quaking buildings tilting and falling
will God never heed our calling?
Like some hell afire with trouble,
children buried in the rubble:
seems there is no hope or reason,
fear unleashed, death finds its season.

Here in utter desperation
harmed by nature's harsh mutation,
will we ask 'is God against us’,
seeking to deny or test us?
When, O when, as life is rattled
and we feel dislodged, embattled,
will an avalanche of praying
turn a God bent on betraying?

Then when rubble ceases moving,
still God's grace, it seems, needs proving.
All our trust and hope is waning,
faith is taut, near breaking, straining.
Yet, as neighbours, sharing grieving,
let us bring God's love, relieving
fears that leave the world unsleeping
seeding trust, God's grace unceasing. © Andrew Pratt 12/5/2015

“When Earth Wakes from Out of Sleep” (Tune: ‘Lucerna Laudoniae’, 88 88 88)
When Earth wakes from out of sleep
With a terrifying shake,
Does our faith lie torn apart
Like the dwellings we forsake?
Cosmic God, each process shows
Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

Once we thought that earthquakes came
From a god to punish wrong;
Now we know they place Earth’s plates
Where for now they should belong.
Cosmic God, each process shows
Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

If we think that all that comes
Is made solely for our good,
We have placed ourselves above
Cosmic ways and livelihood.
Cosmic God, each process shows
Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

If Earth’s plates now need to move,
Its great need exceeds our own,
And it does not take account
Where we choose to make our home.
Cosmic God, each process shows
Parts of wisdom Earth well knows.

For the answers we return
To the Cosmos and its ways,
Ways that humble all our pride,
Ways that fill our hearts with praise.
Cosmic God of everything,
Your great mystery now we sing. (© William L Wallace)

4. War, Remembrance

God Is Dying With The Children (Tune: “Loving Spirit’, 87 87)
God is dying with the children,
sunlight filters through the haze.
Actions of retaliation
shatter, damage, scar and craze.

Blind to this annihilation,
should we simply wring our hands?
Is the carnage that we witness
something mercy understands?

Should we pray that God will hear us,
bring an end to human strife?
But the choice is ours for action:
we should choose, choose now, choose life.

So our prayers are prayers for courage,
facing those who maim and kill,
standing with the weak and helpless,
as we seek to do God’s will.

We would join the wounded healer,
we would risk the rage of friends,
living out the love of Jesus,
knowing love that never ends.
© Andrew Pratt 31/7/2006

Also see his hymns for WW1 remembrance at:  http://hymnsandbooks.blogspot.co.uk/

Hymn For Anzac Day(Tune: ‘Anzac’, 10 10 10 10, Colin Gibson)
Honour the dead, our country's fighting brave,
honour our children left in foreign grave,
where poppies blow and sorrow seeds her flowers,
honour the crosses marked forever ours.

Weep for the places ravaged by our blood,
weep for the young bones buried in the mud,
weep for the powers of violence and greed,
weep for the deals done in the name of need.

Honour the brave whose conscience was their call,
answered no bugle, went against the wall,
suffered in prisons of contempt and shame,
branded as cowards, in our country's name.

Weep for the waste of all that might have been,
weep for the cost that war has made obscene,
weep for the homes that ache with human pain,
weep that we ever sanction war again.

Honour the dream for which our nation bled,
held now in trust to justify the dead,
honour their vision on this solemn day:
peace known in freedom, peace the only way.
(© Shirley Erena Murray, 2005)

About Copyright:
Shirley Murray writes… “© Copyright for Australia (as well as New Zealand and all of Asia) - I give free permission of use. Rest of the World - © Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, USA. Additional condition… They are to be copied exactly as written, without alteration. In all cases author’s full name to be acknowledged.”

5. Caregiving

God, Bless the Ones who Watch and Wait
(A Hymn about Caregiving) 
Tunes: ‘Canonbury’, ‘O Waly Waly’, ‘Angelus’, ‘Herongate’
Based on John 13: 4 ff. Matthew 25: 34-40

God, bless the ones who watch and wait
through lonely vigil, constant care,
who must stay strong for those they love,
for hope to shine through dire despair.

Hold in your light the lives entwined
with those impaired they cannot leave,
where damaged bodies, damaged minds,
become a cause to rage and grieve.

God, bless the arms that lift the weak,
adjust a tone for deaf to hear,
who calm with love a fretful child,
who wash the ill and wipe the tear.

The towel and basin Jesus took
is for us all to take and use,
in giving respite, easing stress
and walking in another's shoes.

God, bless the ones who watch and wait
with cheerful face, though heart may bleed,
who every day commit to care,
to serve and meet another's need. (Shirley Erena Murray, 9/2014)

About Copyright:
Shirley Murray writes… “© Copyright for Australia (as well as New Zealand and all of Asia) - I give free permission of use. Rest of the World - © Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, USA. Additional condition… They are to be copied exactly as written, without alteration. In all cases author’s full name to be acknowledged.”

Forget-Me-Not Hymn”  (Tune:  Lim Swee Hong)
(A forget-me-not flower is the symbol of the Alzheimer's Society NZ)
FOR CARERS AND SUFFERERS OF MEMORY LOSS    

God in whose memory no one is lost,
love that will seek and will find,
      do not forget us when we forget you,
      when we know fear in the mists of our mind.

Faces and places familiar are gone,
clouds of unknowing descend,
      do not forget us when we forget you,
      cared-for and carer have need of a friend.

Help us accept what we cannot repair,
though our hearts hunger and ache,
      do not forget us when we forget you,
      give us the strength not to flinch or forsake.

Memories moved to a world of their own
test all our faithful belief:
      do not forget us when we forget you,
      help us, each one in this shadow of grief.

Give us the grace of true kindness and touch,
patience to stay on this road,
      do not forget us when we forget you,
      Spirit of Jesus, compassion of God.  (© Shirley Erena Murray 2016)

About Copyright: "The tune can be found in Hope Publishing’s Online hymnody. Both © Lim Swee Hong and © Shirley Erena Murray give free permission for use of words and music in the Asian and Australasian territories. Rest of the World - © Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, USA. Additional condition… They are to be copied exactly as written, without alteration. In all cases author’s full name to be acknowledged."

6. God as Mother

From Mothers’ Arms, We See the World
(A hymn about God as Mother)
Tune: On Hope Publishing's website

From mothers' arms, we see the world,
in mothers' arms we look for food,
        Isaiah 66: 12-14
she gives us life, she holds us close,      
Hosea 11:3-4
and so may God be understood.

This God is tender, loving-kind,
the mother bird who guards her nest,      Psalm 36:7
this God can rage, with angry tears,
the mother bear deprived and stressed.    Hosea 13:8

This God is home and warming hearth,
does not forget us when we leave,
           Isaiah 49:14-15
is quick to welcome and embrace,
absorbs our pain when we must grieve.  

God is the seeker of that coin,                  Luke 15: 8-10
the child she lost but longs to find,
the seamstress God who stitches peace
from all the tatters we've designed.

More than our minds can comprehend
more than our bodies can attest,
God is the love that mothers give
that every child be held and blessed. (Shirley Erena Murray 2015)

About Copyright:
Shirley Murray writes… “© Copyright for Australia (as well as New Zealand and all of Asia) - I give free permission of use. Rest of the World - © Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, USA. Additional condition… They are to be copied exactly as written, without alteration. In all cases author’s full name to be acknowledged.”

7. Human Trafficking

Who Would Steal a Life?
(A hymn to address human trafficking and the exploitation of children)
Tune: On Hope Publishing's website
 

Who would steal a life to satisfy a greed?
Who would buy a life, despairing and in need?
God, help us wipe away this evil trade,
make it now your people's passionate crusade!

Who would hurt a child, lead innocents astray?
Who would do this thing and bear the light of day?
God, help us wipe away this evil trade,
make it now your people's passionate crusade!

Who would taint the young who look for love and care,
slake a lust for lucre, harm the unaware?
God, help us wipe away this evil trade,
make it now your people's passionate crusade!

Where the poor are punished, nothing left to sell
but their very bodies in a human hell,
**let us hear the Gospel, heed its urgent pleas:
as you would for Jesus, do for the least of these!  (Shirley Erena Murray, 2015)

Interfaith version:
** God, help us wipe away this evil trade!
Every faith and culture join in this crusade!

About Copyright:
Shirley Murray writes… “© Copyright for Australia (as well as New Zealand and all of Asia) - I give free permission of use. Rest of the World - © Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, USA. Additional condition… They are to be copied exactly as written, without alteration. In all cases author’s full name to be acknowledged.”

8. Disabled

O God, Our God, Disabled God
Words: © 2000 Hope Publishing Company
Tune: On Hope Publishing's website
 

O God, our God, disabled God,
your love shines through a human face,
your broken body crippled, scarred,
your risen life our truth and grace.

Turn our impairment into power
and use our lives to serve you best,
the strengths that by endurance flower,
the gifts we own, unique and blessed.

Our body language may not tell
the fears that you alone can know,
the struggles of our secret hell,
the selves we do not choose to show.

O Holy, Wholly Holy One,
accessible to every call,
the doorway open to the dawn—you
welcome and embrace us all.

O God, our God, disabled God,
creation groans till all are free.
Through joy and pain, through ill and good,
our world will find your harmony.  Shirley Erena Murray 

9. Migration/Refugees

Migration1
Reported in Late August 2015: 70 immigrants found dead in a lorry in Austria
Tune: 'Cherry Tree Carol'

They’re carted off like cattle,
yet we’d refuse a bed
to those who flee from carnage
now drowned, or lost or dead?

Christ said accept the stranger,
how can we bar the door
to those both poor and hungry
who wait beyond our shore.

How can we guard our comfort
or fear what we might lose
when those who are more needy,
we punish and abuse.

God, must we wait for judgment?
Will nothing change our face
from sneering denigration
to smiles of love and grace?

Good God forgive the selfish,
the ones who bind the free,
who now withhold salvation.
Begin right now with me!  © Andrew Pratt 28/8/2015

Migration2
Tune: ‘St Clement’, 98 98

Sometimes the footfall seems incessant,
a challenge to our selfish greed,
how can we clothe and house such numbers,
our fear wells up to veil their need.

Yet every living person coming
should have a share of all our wealth,
but dare we give without a limit
to meet another’s need of health?

This is the challenge set before us,
to greet each stranger as a friend,
to share God’s love, that knows no limits,
until all fear and hunger ends.  © Andrew Pratt 4/9/3015

Boy in an Ambulance
Tune: ‘Eventide (Monk)’

A bloodied child foreshadowed by a cross, 
both share their taste of evil and of loss, 
and when will people ever live and learn 
that hurt and harm is all that war can earn?

We hold our breath in horror as we view 
this scene forever old, forever new; 
amid the dust and rubble strewn around 
a child cries out and parents can’t be found.

How long, O Lord we cry, each hollow word,
our pleas of peace increasingly absurd?
Good God, forgive us when inaction’s voice 
speaks loudly of our violent, hurtful choice.  © Andrew Pratt 18/8/2016
The boy in the Ambulance: five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, Syria August 2016.

rexae74@gmail.com