Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Unsung Hymn

In a recent Christian Education class, the teacher explained the difference between a hymn and a tune. A hymn is the words to be sung, and the tune is, well, the music to which you set the words. Many hymns are known with more than one tune (think of "O Little Town of Bethlehem"). In hymnals the hymns are often coded with symbols like "78.78.78" or "LM" indicating the number of syllables in a line. All hymns with the same "metrical" code can be sung to the same tune. And a tune with a certain metrical code can be used with any texts that have the same code. Of course syllables can be stretched out to several notes, or two syllables sung together, so there is a real art to fitting a hymn text to a tune.

It turns out I have written a hymn - actually, two, but I'm only sharing one in this post. I once presented it to a choir director, and she regretfully told me that it wouldn't easily fit any tunes that are in the public domain. Sigh.

But I thought I could share it here as a poem. I think of it as "The Facebook Prayer", although I suppose that is an improper us of the Facebook trademark. Sigh again.

The Facebook Prayer

Jesus, may I call you “Friend”?
I know that I don’t deserve to.
May I call you “Teacher”, when
I have failed to learn to serve you?
How may I address you, Jesus,
when I come to kneel before you?

On the night before the end,
you ate dinner with your students.
Then you called your students “Friends”,
knowing they would soon desert you.
None of us deserves that title;
so we come to kneel before you.

Teach me, Friend, to see you clearly
in the least of those now near me.
Teach me, Friend, to serve you well:
here and now in those around me.
Let me serve you here, and then
let me dare to call you “Friend”.

Jesus, Friend and Teacher, Lord,
when at last I come before you,
raise me to my feet so that
I may know and praise you only.
Give me what I don’t deserve, and
let me serve as you have served.

No comments:

Post a Comment