Biblical Reference: Luke 2:29-32
Tune: Alexander Robert Reinagle, 1836 ("In Christ There is No East or West")
Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: email@example.com New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/
How Can We Sing a Joyful Song?
O WALY WALY (126.96.36.199) ("Though I May Speak")
A hymn for a Blue Christmas service.
God, Your Blessings Overflow!
DIX (188.8.131.52.7.7) ("For the Beauty of the Earth")
A Thanksgiving hymn (useable any time of year) that celebrates our many blessings, but also God's comfort for those who are grieving during the holidays.
Lord, Let Your Servant Go in Peace
ST. PETER (184.108.40.206) ("In Christ There is No East or West")
This hymn, inspired by Simeon's canticle rejoicing in the infant Jesus (Luke 2:29-32), celebrates God's providence in the light of human suffering death; the final verse is:
"Lord, let your servants daily know
That we are not alone;
And may we find, where'er we go,
You'll lead us safely home."
Come and Join the Celebration!
NETTLETON (220.127.116.11 D) ("Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing")
ANN'S TUNE (18.104.22.168 D)
This hymn celebrates Christian hope found in Easter with references to Romans 8:26-39.
"God, we sing, for there is nothing that can keep your love away --
Not oppression, hardship, famine, things to come or things today.
Heights and depths cannot defeat us; death will never be the same.
Christ is risen! So you promise: we have life in Jesus' name."
- A Decembered Grief: Living with Loss While Others are Celebrating by Harold Ivan Smith gives practical suggestions in short, easy-to-read chapters on dealing with grief during the holidays.
- What Shall We Say?: Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith by Thomas G. Long prompted John Buchanan, Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago and Editor of The Christian Century magazine, to write a short review posted on Amazon: "Out of his extensive experience as pastor, preacher, teacher, and mature scholar, Thomas Long has written a superb book addressing the question that lies deep in the human heart: 'If God is good, why is there evil and innocent suffering in the world?' Exploring the historical responses of philosophers and theologians, Long pushes beyond the conventional notion of God's presence in the midst of suffering to a startling concept of God as warrior, going to combat with evil and suffering. This helpful book should be read by every pastor who lives daily with the mystery of theodicy — and by anyone who has ever pondered and asked 'Why?'"
- Healing Your Holiday Grief: 100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season by Alan D. Wolfelt realizes that different people grieve different deaths in different ways, resulting in varied ideas designed to comfort and guide the grieving during a difficult time of year.
- A Sorrow Shared: A Combined Edition of the Nouwen Classics "In Memoriam" and "A Letter of Consolation" by Henri J. M. Nouwen shares the very personal reflections on loss and grief of a popular writer on spirituality.
- Psalms of Lament by Ann Weems. The gifted poet wrote this book after her son was killed "less than an hour after his twenty-first birthday." Her 50 poems are modeled after the Bible's Psalms of lament moving the reader from the range of emotions that comes with grief (pain, anger, helplessness) to a faithful trust in God who brings all hope.
- Kneeling in Bethlehem, also by Ann Weems, celebrates the mystery and joy of Christmas.
- Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N. T. Wright is a noted biblical scholar's reflections on the everlasting life and its implications for faithful living now.
This hymn of trust was inspired by Simeon's canticle found in Luke 2:29-32. Simeon was a devout Jew who received a promise from the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When Jesus' parents brought their baby to the Temple, Simeon saw Jesus, took him in his arms, and praised God by offering this simple song. This song is sometimes called Nunc dimittis from its first words in Latin; it is used daily as a part of the Compline/Night/Close of Day prayers in the liturgy of hours (just as canticles of Zechariah and Mary are used daily in the morning and evening prayers), including in the ecumenical Book of Common Worship/Daily Prayer developed by the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The first verse of the hymn praises God with a paraphrase of the opening words of the ancient song and moves to the present day, giving thanks that we too have seen God's grace — so we know that all will be well. While later verses acknowledge the problems of life, we are people of faith who know God's love that will make all things right in the end.
The second verse recognizes that there is "sorrow, pain and death." Thomas G. Long writes: "In the place of worship, we cannot pray or sing faithfully without our words being full of the sorrows and joys of life" (Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian), page 47). In the face of such we sing because God's love revealed in Jesus is transforming everything.
The third verse recognizes that, despite our best efforts, there is much in this life that we do not understand; we lack the means to change the world to our wills. When faced with incurable illness and death, we affirm that ultimate healing will come in God's promised gift of everlasting life — when death will be no more and every tear will be wiped away.
The final verse returns to the story of Christmas, the promise of God-with-us, that Simeon's song follows in Luke 2. Matthew's gospel ends with Jesus' Great Commission sending his followers out into the world to serve and to remember what he has taught, including that he is with us always (Matthew 28:16-20). Earlier Jesus comforts his followers before his death with the promise that he goes to prepare a place for us in his Father's house (John 14) so that we will be with him.
"Lord, Let Your Servant Go in Peace" was written one week after the death of Carolyn's mother-in-law, Louise Gillette. Louise was a loving wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and an enthusiastic supporter of Carolyn's hymn writing from the very beginning. This hymn was first sung at her funeral at the request of Louise's husband of fifty-nine years, Jerry, on December 2, 2010.