lyrics for living 1 (touched by a loving hand)

It was another disappointing Sunday, as far as the singing goes. 

In the morning we were treated to lyrics written by Sunday School theologians, mired in mild heresy, sung to awkward tunes which the worship band, so desperate to sing a new song, loved - but which kept the congregation silent.

In the evening we worked our way through dull and dense hymns, written by poet-theologians, but introduced by someone with minimal enthusiasm and sung to tunes with maximal dreariness. 

This so often seems to be the limited choice of options which greets the worshipper on a Sunday. Why?

OK. Let me reveal my hand. I looove hymns. The really good ones have a capacity to reach deep down into my soul and articulate longings they find there which I cannot put into words myself. The sheer resonance that then takes place moves me, often to tears. I confess I am not a fan of the more popular hymns that get sung. Great is Thy Faithfulness. How Great Thou Art. They are good, but I've grown a bit weary of them. Like the pretty kids in class, they always get picked. I am drawn to the ones that don't look so interesting, but are fascinating.

Years ago I wrote a series of reflections on hymns (Lyrics for Living), pitched at youth pastors in an effort to convince them of the value of hymns. I've decided to refresh and recycle them here. I'll start with my favourite verse in the entire hymnbook:
Down in the human heart, crushed by tempter. Feelings lie buried that grace can restore; Touched by a loving hand, wakened by kindness. Chords that were broken will vibrate once more.
Look at the strength of those verbs.
On the downside: crushed, buried, broken.
I remember a youth pastor coming to Carey Baptist College. He put a clay pot on the classroom desk and then smashed it once with a hammer. Gulp. Gasp. 'What will the cleaners say?' Splinters went everywhere, as he said, 'this is what our lives can be like'. Then he took out a second clay pot. He smashed it once - twice - three times. Again and again. More gulping. More gasping. 'This is what life is like for so many young people out there'. I will never, ever for get it.

On the upside: restore, touched, wakened
Look at grace doing its thing again. Amazing. But then what about that phrase, 'touched by a loving hand'. Whose hand? Divine? Human? Not sure - but what about the divine hand through the human hand. That is how I interpret it. You and I can get involved in the restoration and wakening of others. My daughter has just completed her medical elective in Bangladesh, among people with whom she could communicate so very little. But where word and speech shuts down, does that not create a greater opportunity for other senses to step forward - like the touch of a loving hand? I think so. She knows so.

I did go to youtube to find an extract of this hymn being sung. As expected, all was dull and dreary and I couldn't bring myself to provide a link here. Maybe my friend, Dale Campbell, can add this to his collection of good, old church songs

nice chatting 



Ben Carswell said…
I've only just seen this post - and I couldn't agree more. I've loved those lyrics, but always felt the hymn belonged to a by-gone era.

However, I think I can help you on the Youtube clip you were looking for...and to make it even better, it's from NZ ;)

David Lyle Morris has done us all a service by updating the song & it's been put on Youtube

Thanks for reminding me of the words/spirit of that great hymn.
Paul Windsor said…
Of course - thanks, Ben

I so enjoy David's stuff and I had forgotten about this version. Definitely, helps the future of these beautiful words.

tiranamama said…
I love reading your blog Paul. Thank you for sharing. You are a gifted channel of God's truth and peace in a troubled world. I have run across this hymn written down somewhere and tried to make up the melody for it since the words were so beautiful. I'm glad to finally hear it sung in the context of a worship service.

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