Archive for the ‘Desperation and Suffering’ Category

When In the Hour of Utmost Need   2 comments



Above:  Christ the Merciful

Image in the Public Domain

German Text (1547?) by Paul Eber (1511-1569)

English Translation by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) in Lyra Germanica:  The Christian Life (1858)


1.  When in the hour of utmost need

We know not where to look for aid,

When days and nights of anxious thought

Nor help nor counsel yet have brought:

2.  Then this our comfort is alone,

That we may meet before Thy throne,

And cry, O faithful God, to Thee

For rescue from our misery:

3.  To Thee may raise our hearts and eyes,

Repenting sore with bitter sighs,

And seek Thy pardon for our sin,

And respite from our griefs within:

4.  For Thou hast promised graciously

To hear all those who cry to Thee,

Through Him whose Name alone is great,

Our Saviour and our Advocate.

5.  And thus we come, O God, to-day,

And all our woes before Thee lay,

For tried, forsaken, lo! we stand,

Perils and foes on every hand.

6.  Ah, hide not for our sins Thy face,

Absolve us through Thy boundless grace,

Be with us in our anguish still,

Free us at last from evil ill.

7.  That so with all our hearts we may

Once more our glad thanksgivings pay,

And walk obedient to Thy word,

And now and ever praise the Lord.

God the Omnipotent! King, Who Ordainest   2 comments

Apotheosis of War

Above:  Apotheosis of War, by Vasily Vereshchagin

Image in the Public Domain


This is a hymn for use in time of war.  Sadly, we human beings keep acting is ways which keep the sentiments of the hymn current.


This is one of those great Anglican contributions to English-language hymnody.



The story begins with Henry Fothergill Chorley (1808-1872), a Quaker-born novelist, playwright, libretticist, and literary and music critic in London, England, the United Kingdom.  In 1842 he published a hymn, “God, the All-Terrible! Thou Who Ordainest.”  My sources identified the the publication as having occurred in Part Music (1842), by John Pike Hullah (1812-1884).  A search at led me to my reprint of the Plymouth Collection of Hymns and Tunes (Henry Ward Beecher, Plymouth Congregational Church, Brooklyn, New York, 1855), where I found these verses:

1.  God, the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest

Thunder Thy clarion, and lightning Thy sword;

Show forth Thy pity on high where Thou reignest,

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

2.  God, the Omnipotent! mighty Avenger,

Watching invisible, judging unheard;

Save us in mercy, O save us from danger,

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

3.  God, the all-merciful! earth hath forsaken

Thy ways all holy, and slighted Thy word;

But not Thy wrath in its terror awaken,

Give to us pardon and peace, O Lord.

4.  So will Thy people with thankful devotion,

Praise Him who saved them from peril and sword;

Shouting in chorus, from ocean to ocean,

Peace to the nations, and praise to the Lord.

(Hymn #1101)



Hymns of the Spirit (American Unitarian Association, 1864), included an abbreviated and different version of the text, starting with the second stanza.  Thus the hymn became “God, the Omnipotent! Mighty Avenger!”  The context of the U.S. Civil War was evident:

1.  God the Omnipotent! mighty Avenger!

Watching invisible, judging unheard!

Save Thou our land in the hour of her danger,

Give to us peace in Thy time, O Lord!

2.  Thunder and lightnings Thy judgment have sounded;

Letters of flame have recorded Thy word,

‘Only in righteousness true peace is founded’:

Give us that peace in Thy time, O Lord!

3.  So shall the people, with thankful devotion,

Praise Him who saved them from peril and sword;

Shouting in chorus, from ocean to ocean,–

‘Peace to the nation, and praise to the Lord!’

(Hymn #262)



In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), John Ellerton (1826-1893), a priest of The Church of England and author of no fewer than 86 hymns, wrote “God the Almighty One, Wisely Ordaining,” based on Chorley’s hymn.  The text debuted in Robert Brown-Borthwick’s Select Hymns for Church and Home (The Church of England, 1871).  I found the original version of that hymn via Google Books.

1.  God the Almighty One, wisely ordaining

Judgments unsearchable, famine and sword;

Over the tumult of war Thou are reigning;

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord!

2.  God the All-righteous One! man hath defied Thee;

Yet to eternity standeth Thy word;

Falsehood and wrong shall not tarry beside Thee;

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord!

3.  God the All-pitiful, is it not crying,

Blood of the guiltless like water outpoured?

Look on the anguish, the sorrow, the sighing;

Give to us peace in our time, O Lord!

4.  God, the All-wise! by the fire of Thy chastening

Earth shall to freedom and truth be restored;

Through the thick darkness Thy kingdom is hast’ning,

Thou wilt give peace in Thy time, O Lord!



The first joining of the Chorley and Ellerton texts occurred in the 1874 revision of Church Hymns (The Church of England, 1871), as one can read for oneself by following the hyperlink and seeking hymn #262.  Since then many hymnals have contained various composites of the Chorley and Ellerton texts, frequently with alterations to them.  The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) contained the hymn, but listed it as “God, Lord of Sabaoth, Thou Who Ordainest.”  The hymn was “God the All-Merciful! Earth Hath Forsaken” in the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) but “God the Omnipotent! King, Who Ordainest” in the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  The influential Hymnal (Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1895) and its successor from 1911 listed the hymn as “God, the All-Terrible,” but The Hymnal (1933) changed the title to “God the Omnipotent.”  Among more conservative Presbyterians (especially in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America) who use either the 1961 or the 1990 versions of the Trinity Hymnal, God remains “All-terrible.”  God was “All-terrible” in The Methodist Hymnal (Methodist Episcopal Church and Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1905), but “Omnipotent” in The Methodist Hymnal of 1935 (Methodist Episcopal Church, Methodist Protestant Church, and Methodist Episcopal Church, South; later The Methodist Church, 1939-1968).  As late as The Hymnal of 1918 (Episcopal Church, authorized in 1916) God was “All-Terrible,” but the deity was “Omnipotent” instead in The Hymnal 1940 (published in 1943).  The consensus among hymnal committees is that God is “Omnipotent,” not “All-terrible.”

The variation on the hymn in The Hymnal 1982 (Episcopal Church, 1985) contains four stanzas–two from Chorley, two from Ellerton, and all of them altered.  This is the version I sing in church:

1.  God the Omnipotent! King, who ordainest

thunder thy clarion, the lightning thy sword;

show forth thy pity on high where thou reignest:

give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

2.  God the All-merciful! earth hath forsaken

thy ways all holy, and slighted thy word;

bid not thy wrath in its terrors awaken:

give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

3.  God, the All-righteous One! earth hath defied thee;

yet eternity standeth thy word,

falsehood and wrong shall not tarry beside thee:

give to us peace in our time, O Lord.

4.  God the All-provident! earth by thy chastening

yet shall to freedom and truth be restored;

through the thick darkness thy kingdom is hastening:

thou wilt give peace in thy time, O Lord.

Hymn writer Brian Wren (1936-) wrote of hymns in Praying Twice:  The Music and Words of Congregational Song (Louisville, KY:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2000, page 297):

I have shown that congregational songs are communal.  Though they usually originate from particular authors, their primary purpose is to give shared expression to shared experience, not parade the author’s personality.  Because they are communal a faith community may, in principle amend them.

The story of “God the Omnipotent!” fits that statement well.



Denominations revise their official hymnals from time to time.  In so doing they add some texts and remove others.  Here is a partial list of denominations which have removed “God the Omnipotent!” (however they have listed it) from their official hymnody as of 2015, based on hymnals of which I own physical copies:

  1. the American Baptist Churches U.S.A., during their transition from the Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970) to no official hymnal;
  2. the Anglican Church of Canada, during the transition from The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada (1971) to Common Praise (1998);
  3. the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, during the transition from The Covenant Hymnal (1973) to The Covenant Hymnal:  A Worshipbook (1996);
  4. the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, during the transition from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006);
  5. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod, during the transition from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996);
  6. the Free Methodist Church of North America and the Wesleyan Church, during their transition from Hymns of Faith and Life (1976) to no official hymnal;
  7. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, during its transition from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to Lutheran Worship (1982) and the Lutheran Service Book (2006);
  8. the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), by way of its predecessors, the Presbyterian Church in the United States and The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., during the transition from The Hymnbook (1955) to The Worshipbook–Services and Hymns (1972);
  9. the Reformed Church in America, during its transition from Rejoice in the Lord:  A Hymn Companion to the Scriptures (1985) to Lift Up Your Hearts:  Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs (2013);
  10. the Southern Baptist Convention, during the transition from Baptist Hymnal (1956) to Baptist Hymnal (1975); the text is absent even from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship‘s Celebrating Grace Hymnal (2010);
  11. the Unitarian Universalist Association, sometime after Hymns of the Spirit (American Unitarian Association, 1864) and before Hymns of the Spirit (American Unitarian Association and Universalist Church of America, 1937);
  12. The United Methodist Church, during its transition from The Hymnal of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (1957) and The Methodist Hymnal/The Book of Hymns (1966) to The United Methodist Hymnal:  Book of United Methodist Worship (1992); and
  13. the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, during the transition from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) to Christian Worship:  A Lutheran Hymnal (1993); neither is the hymn present in Christian Worship:  Supplement (2008).

That list covers a wide theological range.  So does the list of denominations which have retained it–from The Episcopal Church to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to the United Church of Christ to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in America.  The list of denominations which have never added it to their official hymnody is also diverse, ranging from the Christian Reformed Church of North America to the Church of Nazarene.  Sometimes the presence or absence of the hymn indicates more about tastes in hymnody and worship style than about theology.

Another piece of supporting evidence for that conclusion comes from two non-denominational Evangelical hymnals Tom Fettke edited:  The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (1986) and The Celebration Hymnal:  Songs and Hymns for Worship (1997).  The former contains the hymn which is the subject of this post, but the latter does not.  A Victorian hymn set to the majestic former Russian national anthem does not fit with contemporary worship, with its seven-eleven songs, does it?





Posted July 21, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), Community and Country 1800s, Desperation and Suffering 1800s, Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary (1996), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), Hymnbook for Christian Worship (1970), Hymns of the Spirit for Use in the Free Churches of America (1937), Lent/Confession of Sin 1800s, Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Service Book and Hymnal (1958), The Hymn Book of the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada (1971), The Hymnal (1895), The Hymnal (1911), The Hymnal (1933), The Hymnal 1916 (1918), The Hymnal 1940 (1943), The Hymnal 1982 (1985), The Hymnbook (1955), The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), The Methodist Hymnal (1905), The Methodist Hymnal (1935), The Methodist Hymnal (1966), The United Methodist Hymnal (1989)

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Now Lay We Calmly in the Grave   3 comments


Above:  A Cemetery, Between 1904 and 1920

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-det-4a28669

Original Czech Text (1519) by Luke of Prague (1458-1528)

German Translation (1531) by Michael Weisse (1480-1534)

English Translation (1858) by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)

Hymn Source = Hymnal and Liturgies of the Moravian Church (Unitas Fratrum) (1923), Moravian Church in America


1.  Now lay we calmly in the grave

This form, whereof no doubt we have

That it shall rise again that day

In glorious triumph o’er decay.

2.  His soul is living now in God,

Whose grace His pardon hath bestowed,

Who through His Son redeemed him here

From bondage unto sin and fear.

3.  Then let us leave him to his rest,

And homeward turn, for he is blest.

And we must well our souls prepare,

When death shall come, to meet him there.

4.  So help us, Christ, our Hope in loss;

Thou hast redeemed us by Thy Cross

From endless death and misery;

We praise, we bless, we worship Thee.

Father, What’er of Earthly Bliss   1 comment

Crucifix III July 15, 2014

Above:  One of My Crucifixes, July 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Hymn Source = New Baptist Hymnal (1926), Northern Baptist Convention and Southern Baptist Convention

The New Baptist Hymnal was considerably more popular in the former than in the latter, according to William Jensen Reynolds, Hymns of Our Faith:  A Handbook for the Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, TN:  Broadman Press, 1964), page xxix.

Text (published in 1760) by Anne Steele (1716-1778), who spent most of her life as an invalid in constant pain and frequently bedridden, and whose fiance died just a few hours before the scheduled wedding


1.  Father, whate’er of earthly bliss

Thy sovereign will denies,

Accepted at thy throne of grace,

Let this petition rise:–

2.  Give me a calm, a thankful heart,

From ev’ry murmur free;

The blessings of thy grace impart,

And make me live to thee.

3.  Let the sweet hope that thou art mine

My life and death attend;

Thy presence thro’ my journey shine,

And crown my journey’s end.

One Radiant Morn the Mists Will All Surrender   1 comment

Mountain Morning

Above:  Mountain Morning

Image in the Public Domain

Hymn Source = The Concordia Hymnal:  A Hymnal for Church, School and Home (1932), Norwegian-American Lutheran

Original Words by Wilhelm Andreas Wexels (1797-1866)

English Translation (1931) by Oscar R. Overby (1892-1964)


1.  One radiant morn the mists will all surrender,

And life’s uncertain shadows pass away;

When light celestial breaks in dazzling splendor

To lead my step into eternal day.

2.  One radiant morn the mysteries I ponder,

And leave unsolved on all my quests abroad,

Shall be construed for me in fullness yonder

When I awake to sense the ways of God.

3.  One radiant morn when hearts bowed down in sorrow

Are comforted and reconciled above,

All pain and tears I here in anguish borrow

Shall be dissolved in fountain-rays of love.

4.  One radiant morn with eyes unveiled before Him,

I’ll see the One my faith and hope embrace;

Within the holy realms I’ll praise, adore Him,

And kneel to thank my Savior face to face.

5.  One radiant morn when sinless souls assemble,

Where each desire is born in purity,

No more the thought of wrong shall make me tremble,

But, ransomed, I shall live forever free.

6.  One radiant morn in halls of home supernal,

I’ll meet again the friend I here esteem,

In glory speak with him of life eternal,

And of the life that vanished like a dream.

7.  O Jesus, stir within my heart of sadness

This vision fair whene’er I grieve forlorn,

That it may turn all bitter tears to gladness,

And lead my spirit to that radiant morn.

Some Day, I Know   3 comments

Cathedral Ruins

Above:  Cathedral Ruins

Image in the Public Domain

Hymn Source = Hymnal for Church and Home (1938), Danish Evangelical Lutheran Synods in America

Original Text by Wilhelm Andreas Wexels (1797-1866)

English Translation by Soren Damsgaard Rodholm (1877-1951)


1.  Some day, I know, the mist that is veiling

Shall roll away and darkness disappear

Before the day with radiance never failing,

On which my path shall lie before me clear.

2.  Some day, I know, all mysteries perplexing,

Which here I never quite could understand,

With all my problems yet unsolved and vexing,

Shall be revealed, and I shall see God’s hand.

3.  Some day, I know, all sorrow shall have vanished,

All wounds be healed and ev’ry want supplied.

All tears shall cease, all sighs for aye be banished;

In love’s embrace all unrest shall subside.

4.  Some day, I know, I shall appear before Him

Whom here I hold in love’s and faith’s embrace.

Shall humbly kneel and gratefully adore Him,

And with mine eyes behold Him face to face.

5.  Some day, I know, for sin no longer slaving,

Each tho’t and word and deed unstained and pure,

I shall not even fear a sinful craving

My purity and bliss might e’er obscure.

6.  Some day, I know, in yonder realms of glory,

I, with the friend I found while on the way,

Shall speak of that new life and tell the story

Of this old life, dimmed like a dream by day.

7. My Savior, give my heart this sweet conviction

Each time the way seems long and full of pain,

That it may lighten ev’ry deep affliction

And cause a smile to shine through tears again.

On the Occasion of a Disaster: Nepal Earthquake   Leave a comment


Above:  Map of Nepal, 1971

Image Source = Hammond Contemporary Atlas (1971)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus:

Draw near to affected people in this time of sorrow and anguish,

comfort those to mourn,

strengthen those who are weary,

encourage those in despair,

and lead them to fullness of life;

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

God for ever and ever.  Amen.

Job 14:7-13 or Jeremiah 31:15-20

Psalm 60:105 or 130 or 80:1-7 or 23

Romans 8:35-38 or Revelation 21:1-7 or Romans 8:18-25

Luke 6:20-26 or Mark 13:14-27

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), The Episcopal Church

After a Disaster: Nepal Earthquake   Leave a comment


Above:  Map of Nepal, 1945

Image Source = Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World, 1945

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Prayer Source = Chalice Worship (1997), Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)


Lord of compassion and power,

be with those who have survived this disaster;

minister to their needs of mind and spirit, body and circumstance;

help those who are hurt;

give peace to the dying;

comfort and support the bereaved;

and to all who are working to bring relief and restore order,

give strength and resilience to do their work well;

for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Posted April 29, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Chalice Worship (1997), Desperation and Suffering 1900s

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O Lord, Hear Thou My Calling   1 comment

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Above:  De Profundis

Image in the Public Domain

Hymn Source = The Lutheran Hymnary (1935), Norwegian Lutheran Church of America/The Evangelical Lutheran Church

Original Text (1557) by Clement Marot (1497-1544)

English Translation (1907) by Carl Doving (1867-1937)


1.  O Lord, hear Thou my calling,

Out of the deep I cry;

O make my prayer prevailing;

With aid to me draw nigh:

O mark my lamentation,

My restless sighing hear,

And to my supplication

Incline Thy gracious ear.

2.  If Thou shouldst mark abuses

And strict account demand,

O Lord, with what excuses

Could we before Thee stand?

But if with true contrition

Our sins we mourn and blame,

Thou savest from perdition

That we may fear Thy name.

3.  In God my hope abideth,

My trust is in the Lord,

My soul in Him confideth

And builds upon His word:

My soul for Him is yearning,

More longing for His grace

Than daylight’s sweet returning

The watchman longs to trace.

4.  Be God thy strong foundation,

Thou chosen Israel;

Thy God with whom salvation

And mercy ever dwell;

His river ever streameth,

With pardon full and free,

He Israel redeemeth

From all iniquity.

When There is a Natural Disaster: Nepal   Leave a comment

Coat of Arms of Nepal

Above:  The Coat of Arms of Nepal

Image in the Public Domain


God of earthquake, wind, and fire,

tame natural forces that defy control,

or shock us with their fury.

Keep us from calling disaster your justice;

and help us, in good times or in calamity,

to trust your mercy which never ends,

and your power,

which in Jesus stilled storms,

raised dead,

and conquered evil.  Amen.

–Adapted from Book of Common Worship (1993), page 801

(I modified the last line to reflect the Classic Theory of the Atonement.)