GOD OF PEACE AND GOD OF JUSTICE
God of peace
and God of justice,
May Your love our hearts renew.
Help us bridge the gaps among us,
Muslim, Buddhist, Christian,
In Your goodness, help us reach out
To all people every day.
Help us grow to understand those
truth in other ways.
Let our friendships ever broaden
And extend to neighbors new.
Help us love them just as
And enfold them as You do.
Let our outreach be unbounded,
Our compassion ever free.
Guide us always
as we labor
To build Your community.
We lament for those afflicted.
We’ll support and comfort them.
not whence their infirmity,
Help us love and not condemn.
Whether strangers or our neighbors,
Let us with respect
They are members, just as we are,
Of Your wondrous human race.
We remember our departed
brothers, lov’d ones, friends.
Taken from us all too early,
And our grief is slow to mend.
May they dwell with
In Your Kingdom without end.
In Your mercy, bid them welcome.
Make Your light to shine on them.
of light and God of goodness,
Hear our pray’rs of thanks and praise.
Free our souls of heartless prejudice,
with us always.
Let us bring hope to the hopeless.
May their spirits soar above.
Help us do what You would have
Help us love as You would love.
The text for “God of Peace and God of Justice” was
written for an annual ecumenical AIDS memorial service in Alameda, a diverse community in virtually every respect where interdenominational
comity is very important. (Catholic clergy, for example, join Lutheran counterparts in celebrating Reformation Sunday!)
year the service was held at St. Joseph Basilica where, albeit not “of the Faith.” I lector, cantor, and lead the choir’s
bass section. The challenge was to select music that would be meaningful to all and yet offensive to none - Buddhist, Catholic,
Jew, Muslim, Protestant.
I was asked to “tweak” several hymns to work around sectarian references and concepts, but
the result wasn’t satisfying, so I wrote this text from scratch using as its setting “Beach Spring” (8787 D) from the Sacred
Harp (1844). The work was well received.
Although written for a specific purpose, this hymn could be appropriate for
any ecumenical service, memorial or otherwise, and in fact, for general use.
OF THE BEREAVED
(To the memory of the victims of 9-11-01)
Softly and gently dear departed souls,
in our sad memories
we do enfold you;
and through the coming ages as they roll,
our broken hearts will now forever hold you.
deep grief we sadly let you go,
while you make not a sound nor give resistance.
Your final journey, which we all will
now takes you further into the dim distance.
Angels to whom the welcome charge is giv'n
shall nurture you
where now you briefly linger.
Our pray'rs upon the earth, like those in heav'n,
shall speed you home again unto your
Farewell, but not for long departed friends.
Wait patiently for us and do not sorrow.
Our time apart shall
very quickly end,
for we will come and join you on the morrow.
Two days after the terrorists struck in New York,
Washington, and Pennsylvania, a hastily organized ecumenical memorial service was held at St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda,
California, where I sing.
One anthem proposed was “The Guardian’s Farewell,” a powerful setting by David Haas of a
text by John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), but the words didn’t really quite fit the occasion, and some of the imagery
was quite arcane.
In order to use Haas’ marvelous music, I wrote a new text from scratch while trying to capture some
of the spirit of Newman’s original work. The result was “Farewell of the Bereaved.” It was well received and has since been
performed a number of times both for funerals and for public memorial services. It may eventually be published.
OUT, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS!
Sing out, faithful Christians, thanks to God above.
Share your love with
others; praise God for his love.
As the Father loves me, also I love you.
Keep all my commandments, be forever true.
told his disciples, be like Me in this;
You’ll remain in my love then, as I remain in His.
Love each other as I
love, that is my command;
That my joy be in you, joy that knows no end.
Then your joy will be complete, to this truth
Greater love has none than one whose life he gives for friends.
Do what I command of you, and you’ll be
Now not slaves who know not what their Lord intends.
I have told you everything I have heard from God:
I call you friends, not slaves, walk with me where I’ve trod.
It wasn’t you who chose me: I appointed you.
forth and bear fruit, ever to Me true.
Love each other always: thus My love renew,
So what’s asked in My name, God may
give to you.
Love can move a mountain, or a stubborn heart;
It can change a person, give one a new start.
can shape a lifetime, or the way one dies:
Love can buoy us up, or help us once again to rise.
Love each other,
Christians, that is God’s command.
As he loves each of us, our love must expand.
God’s love is eternal, unconditional;
must love our neighbors, also others one and all.
Brothers, sisters harken, Christians one and All:
We are one in
Jesus. We must heed His call.
Christ our Lord commands us, love all strangers, too;
They are all God’s children, love
them, just as He loves you.
The text for “Sing Out, Faithful Christians” is based freely on John 15. It was written
as an alternate text to give rebirth to a grand old hymn tune, “St. Gertrude” (220.127.116.11.D with refrain) composed by Sir Arthur
Many would recognize the tune as the setting for “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a once very popular
hymn that fell into disfavor because of its bellicose tenor when contemporary emphasis on peace and love displaced Church
militancy which was fashionable in Victorian times.
ON THE BEACH
called, and honor, too.
Misled and malinformed,
He answered both,
And did the best he could
With what he had.
well prepared at all
For what he met,
He stumbled, tried again,
And, in the bitter end,
At last he failed.
He lonely stands
Back to the seething sea,
Taking heavy fire.
So oft’ betrayed,
Unarmed, he waits,
No longer sure.
He yearns for rescue.
But there’s none.
There are no boats.
He wonders what to do.
Deny? That's not his style.
Fall back? Regroup?
safe place left to hide.
No kindred soul to join.
Or reinvent himself perhaps?
Too late, by far, for that.
Can change his fate.
Should outrage or self-pity
Fill his soul? Or just the
Sadness that his spirit
And as his life slips fast away,
He almost welcomes death,
And yet he hates it, too,
For in his heart,
That Afterlife is just a myth.