Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Community of Christ Hymnal

Yesterday I received a letter from Scott Shorney, the Vice President of Hope Publishing Company thanking me for granting permission to use several of my hymns as part of the new hymnal for the Communiy of Christ. Along with it, Scott sent me an "author's copy" of the new "Community of Christ Sings". It is a beautiful book, well-thought out, and carefully designed.

I am pleased that four of my hymns are included in the hymnal:

- #237 "God, Renew Us by Your Spirit";
- #316 "O God of Love, Grant Us Your Peace";
- #496 "See What Love We Have Been Given"; and
- #639 "God, Bless Your Church with Strength!"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

To Love is to be Breakable

TO LOVE IS TO BE BREAKABLE—
Meter: CM (86.86) – Suggested Tune: TALLIS’ ORDINAL
By John A. Dalles – Inspired by Lines by C. S. Lewis

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C S Lewis, “The Four Loves”

To love is to be breakable—
So love with all you are,
Commitment unforsakeable
May leave a mark, a scar.

To love is to be bendable—
So love and limber be,
Become the one befreindable—
With lithe humility.

To love is to be vulnerable—
So love with openness,
At risk and truly honorable—
This is the way to bless.

To love is to be changeable—
By all you love each day,
Alive and rearrangeable,
So give yourself away!

Copyright © 2013, John A. Dalles

This hymn text is set as an anthem by Wm. Glenn Osborne and will have its debut on Sunday, November 17 at 4 p.m. in the Knowles Chapel on the Campus of Rollins College in Winter Park at the C. S. Lewis Evensong.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

EVERY HOPE WE HAVE IS GROUNDED

Richard Clarke, who has served as the music director of the St. Bartholomew Faith Community in Wayzata, Minnesota since 1994, has recently become a friend through the wonderful connective powers of sacred music. 

Recently, Richard asked me to take a look at a hymn called "All My Hope On God Is Founded" which is a hymn based on two different author's words which were set to music by Henry Howells in memory of his son who had died.  The hymn tune is MICHAEL named in honor of Michael Howells.

MICHAEL is a marvelous hymn tune and one that I did not know until Richard asked me to look at it.  So many thanks to him, for introducing it to me.  I have been working on it ever since he suggested it and had about three of the five stanzas nearly done, and then set it aside.  I awakened early this morning to find that the remaining work was more or less in my head, so finished it around daybreak today.

I have tried to stay close to the intention of the original in this version which, because it uses some lines from the original, I have said is: After “All My Hope On God Is Founded”.

In the writing of the hymn, I saw the connection to the passage from Colossians, so placed the quotation within the subtitle.  I also was very moved by the account of the writing of the tune, by Howells, in memory of his son.  In a way, I fear that treading on so personal an experience might be an intrusion upon grief expressed in faith, but on the other hand, I do feel that a hymn using first person plural instead of first person singular is more appropriate for congregational song. So those changes were part of this new hymn.

Also, I like to see some sense that our faith is at work in what we do, so have tried to incorporate a sense of doing and action in some of the lines, which might not have been expressed as clearly in the original.  I understand the first three stanzas in the original are from Jaachim Neander (1650-1680) and the last two were apparently written by Robert Seymore Bridges (1844-1930).  I hope they will forgive my tinkering with their poetry.

If you find that you like this new hymn text, please contact me regarding permission for its use in your worship.
 
EVERY HOPE WE HAVE IS GROUNDED

Colossians 1:23  "Continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
 
 Text: John A. Dalles, 2013
Tune:  MICHAEL (In memory of his son, by Herbert Howells, 1892-1983)
Meter: 878767
 
 
 Every hope we have is grounded
In God’s grace forever true;
Change may challenge, chance may frighten,
Only God will see us through.
Do not fear; God is here—
Day by day and year by year!
 
 
Fame and fortune, gold and glory,
Tempt us and betray God’s trust;
Yet, with care God plans and fashions
Lasting works of righteousness.
God’s great power, hour by hour,
Is our temple and our tower.
 
God’s great goodness lasts forever—
God’s is brilliant, bold and wise,
God is light and life and splendor,
By God’s word new worlds arise—
Evermore from God’s store,
God creates us to adore.
 
Daily the Almighty Giver
grants us overflowing gifts;
God, our Maker, Guider, Savior,
Leads us forward and uplifts—
By God’s hand, may we stand,
And with joy do God’s command.


One and all, our voices raising,
May we pray “Thy will be done!”
High above all praises praising
Every grace of Christ the Son—
Do not fear; God is here—
Day by day and year by year!
 
After “All My Hope On God Is Founded”


Copyright © John A. Dalles, 2013.

 Permission granted for use in worship to Richard Clarke & the St. Bartholomew Catholic Faith Community, Wayzata, MN
 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Now Is The Time To Speak named the 2012 Winning Hymn in the Macalester-Plymouth 17th Annual Hymn Contest

February 20, 2013

Macalester Plymouth United Church of St. Paul, Minnesota, is pleased to announce the winner of its 17th annual hymn contest, a search for new hymn texts that address the scriptural call to speak out loudly and clearly against injustice, and to unite with others working for change.

The winning hymn, Now Is the Time to Speak, was written by the Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles, the pastor of Wekiva Presbyterian Church in Longwood, Florida. He is a graduate of both Lancaster Theological Seminary (UCC) and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PCUSA). A life member of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, his hymn texts have been published in a number of denominational hymnals.

2012 Prize Winning Hymn
Now Is the Time to Speak

by the Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles
Longwood, Florida
Meter 6666D
Suggested tune: INVITATION (MAKER)

Now is the time to speak of work informed by prayer,
of hands to help the weak, of bravery to dare.
O may we not keep still, for there is much to do:
Speak out to do God’s will, God’s justice to pursue!

Now is the time to speak, the time to mull has passed;
the future still is bleak for all who are downcast –
They struggle to provide, they struggle to be heard,
they call us to their side to speak God’s saving word!

Now is the time to speak, for words can lead the way;
achieve the aims we seek by speaking out today!
May conscience conquer fear, may courage vanquish doubt.
The time to speak is here: In faithfulness, speak out!

*****

Copyright © 2012, John A. Dalles

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Hymn "Praise God For Days Long Past!" Sung as Part of a 250th Anniversary Worship


I feel somewhat remiss in not having posted this sooner. 

Anne Fritts of the Schoeneck Moravian Church in Nazareth, PA, sent me the program from their congregation's 250th anniversary worship service and a note of thanks, because they included my hymn "Praise God for Days Long Past!" as part of the celebration.  Above and below are some photos.


I thought I might make some mention of the hymn that they selected...
"Praise God for Days Long Past!" is my 24th of well over 1000 hymn texts that I have written since 1983.  The hymn was written in 1991 for the hymn search for the 100th anniversary of the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  It was not chosen by the judges of that search.  The text is based on a passage from II Timothy.


Even though it was not chosen then, the hymn did not get forgotten.

It was published the very next year in the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s 100th anniversary edition of "The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study".


Thereafter, it was distributed nationally to all PC(USA) congregations by the Presbyterian Historical Society, for the first annual "Presbyterian Heritage Sunday" on May 24, 1992, as the Presbyterian Heritage Sunday Hymn.

For some time I kept track of the requests that came my way for its use, and I see that it was published in the Foothills Presbytery Newsletter, Greenville SC and in the wonderful but no longer in print "Church Worship" magazine in April of 1992.  The hymn has been sung by numerous congregations in at least 13 states and 2 Canadian provinces.


Currently “Praise God for Days Long Past” is under my copyright.  It is to appear in my next book from Wayne Leupold Editions, called “God is the Singer’s Friend” which will debut at the Hymn Society Annual Conference in Richmond, this coming July. 
Up until Schoeneck Moravian Church, I believe the longest / oldest anniversary of which it was a part was the Bicentennial celebration of First Presbyterian Church of St. Clairsville, OH on 5/26/98.


But to think... A 250th anniversary (wow!).
I am excited that they hymn that the judges rejected has gone so many places, and so pleased that it was part of the Shoeneck Moravian's anniversary service—and what an anniversary!



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Good News...

I am a pushover for good news. 

I suppose every Christian is, since the Gospel, is--literally--the Good News.  I can go for weeks and weeks on a bit of good news that comes either expectedly or unexpectedly.

Today, I am rejoicing in two pieces of good news having to do with my hymn writing.  One came in the mail and one in the email which to my way of thinking is a nice blend of old and new technology.  Both came from hymn publishers...

The first good news came from Scott Shorney who is the Vice President of Hope Publishing Company, in Chicagoland, which is the largest and leading publisher of hymns in the country--at least that is what I have been told.  The Shorney family are Hope Publishing and vise versa.  Scott is a great fellow and among other things he and his family host the Life Member Dinner at the Annual Meeting of the Hymn Society which is always a joyful evening.

Scott wrote to request permission that one of my hymns may be printed in a preview book that is now underway for the Community of Christ hymnal (due to be published in 2013).  This will give members of that denomination a chance to sample some of the hymns that will be in the new book.  Of course I said yes.  I was aware that the book was underway and also had received word that some of my hymns would be in it, because of several happy communications from Dale Luffman, who was in my doctor of ministry cohort group at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary back in the mid 1990s.  Dale is one of the leaders of the Community of Christ denomination and when the editors of their new hymnal met with him a year or so ago to show him what had been selected for the new hymnal, he was happily surprised to see the name of an old friend among the names of the authors, and got in touch with me.  Dale and the others who were in our D. Min. group were all from "all over" both geographically and denominational speaking; I was the only person in the group who lived in Pittsburgh.  So every time our group met (in June and January for two years), Judy and I would have a dinner to which all of the others and all our professors and their spouses for that semester, were invited, as well as Sam and Doris Calian, the President of the seminary and his wife, who are dear friends.  Good news in the form of a letter and good memories, combined.

The second good news came from Lucy Sullivan who is with Wayne Leupold Editions, another fine publishers of hymns and sacred music.  Wayne Leupold is a human dynamo and an excellent organist and founded this company ...  about a dozen years ago and it has been a real boost to sacred hymn writers.  Lucy is the editor at WLE.  This news came in as I was starting the September Worship Committee meeting.  I happened to hear the computer make that "ding" noise that says a new email came in.  I took a look and lo and behold there was not one, but two emails, from Lucy.  Now, in 2009 WLE published a collection of 62 of my hymns called "We Turn to God" and I had the joy of working with Lucy then.  Since that time they had told me that a second book would be brought out in 2013.  So I had that in the back of my mind but in these matters the publisher always takes the lead and the author follows the steps, if you will permit a dancing metaphor. 

The news in the emails confirmed that Wayne Leupold is indeed planning to make my new book ready in time for the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Hymn Society.

As the evening progressed, in Longwood, FL, we were working on many things having to do with worship in the next several months include Scottish Sunday on September 30th and World Communion Sunday the week after that.  In Colfax NC, Lucy was working (well into the night I might point out) on hymn publishing stuff--and I was on her radar.  So that when my meeting was over, I had several more emails from Lucy one of which was a conversation about the title for the book.  From some months back, we had had a tentative title and then a second working title and both were taken from first lines of hymns that would be in the book, but neither of them had really grabbed either of us.  In one of the emails, Lucy suggested that we turn the first line in one of the proposed title hymns from passive voice (in which it was written) to active voice.

Ta da!  What a wonderful idea.  And not only that, since the number of syllables were exactly the same, Lucy suggested that the active voice version might fit the hymn as well as fit our ideas for the title.  So it was that I went to the text of the hymn to see.  And yes, not only does it fit, but fit beautifully.  I told Lucy she is the hymn writer's angel--which she is.

So we are underway. 

And I am thankful to the Lord that these two good news items were in my head when I awakened today.


Friday, June 29, 2012

WHOSOEVER ON THE NIGHT OF CHRIST’S NATIVITY
A Hymn for Christmas Eve

Text: John A. Dalles, June 29, 2012
Suggested tunes: CAIRNBROOK, SINCLAIR
Meter: 8585D

Whosoever on the night of Christ’s nativity
through the shadows, bears the light of One who sets us free—
Brings a gift for those in sorrow and a word of grace—
Shall in life beyond tomorrow shine like stars ablaze!

Bring a bone with bounteous flavor, for lamenting hounds;
Bring a wisp of honeyed hay for steeds on shivering grounds;
Bring a brace of brushwood kindling, for the drafty hearth;
Bring a joyous song unending, singing peace on earth!

For the birds on branches dreary, bring a dish of crumbs;
Bring red garlands of bright berries, for the tattered ones;
Bring a treat for children famished, bread and blessings blend;
For the ones whose hope has vanished: Come and be a friend!

Whosoever brings a blessing, shall receive as well,
Harmonies of joy unceasing, more than time can tell;
After they are stooped and feeble, when earth’s days will cease,
They will walk anew and able in unending peace!

Whosoever on the night of Christ’s nativity
through the shadows, bears the light of One who sets us free—
Brings a gift for those in sorrow and a word of grace—
Shall in life beyond tomorrow shine like stars ablaze!

Copyright © 2012, John A. Dalles

This Christmas Eve Hymn was inspired by the following anonymous quotation:

Whosoever on the night of the nativity of the young Lord Jesus, in the great snows, shall fare forth bearing a succulent bone for the lost and lamenting hounds, a wisp of hay for the shivering horse, a cloak of warm raiment for the stranded wayfarer, a bundle of brushwood for the shivering widow, a garland of bright red berries for one who has worn chains, a dish of crumbs with a song of love for all huddled birds who thought that song was dead, and various lavish delicacies for such children’s faces that peer from lonely windows, to them shall be offered and returned gifts of such an astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock and the harmonies of heaven; so that though they live to the great age when they go stooping and querulous because of the nothing that is left of them, yet shall they walk upright and remembering, as those whose hearts shine like blazing stars, in their chest.

-          Author unknown, alt. JAD June 2012