Another Powerful Worship Service about Vocation

Westminster Presbyterian Church
Westminster              Presbyterian Church

The February 9th worship service at Minneapolis Presbyterian Church again was focused on vocation. Only two weeks prior the service also was focused on vocation.[1]

Music played an important role in the service, starting with these two organ preludes:

  • “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult” was written by Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927), a composer of many works for organ and other keyboard instruments, orchestra, chamber ensembles and voice. With B.M. and M.M. degrees from Yale University and a Ph. D. degree from the Eastman School of Music, she is Professor Emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara. Later in the service we sang the hymn by that name with a different melody as discussed below.
  • Aaron David Miller, a renowned concert organist and composer and the Music Director and Organist at House of Hope Presbyterian Church (St. Paul, Minnesota), composed “The Summons.”

Thereafter two hymns reinforced the Sermon by Rev. Dr. Timothy Hart-Andersen, the church’s Senior Pastor, “What Happens When Jesus Calls?” that will be covered in a subsequent post.

The music for the hymn “Jesus Calls Us [O’er the Tumult]” was composed in 1887 by William Herbert Jude (1851-1922), an English organist and composer. Its words are from 1852 by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895), a female hymn writer and poet and a member of the Church of Ireland, an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. Here are the words:

1 ”Jesus calls us, o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth
Saying, ‘Christian, follow Me;’”

2 “As of old, apostles heard it
By the Galilean lake,
Turned from home and toil and kindred,
Leaving all for His dear sake.”

3 “Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store;
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more.’”

4 “In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
‘Christian, love Me more than these.’”

5  “Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.”

The other hymn, “Will You Come and Follow Me,” had a traditional Scottish melody with words written in 1987 by John L. Bell and Graham Maule to celebrate the vocation of a youth volunteer. Bell is an ordained Church of Scotland minister and hymnwriter and a member of the Iona Community and its Wild Goose Resource Center.[2] Maule is also at the Center where he focuses on innovative lay training and education (theological and artistic) and lay involvement in worship. These are their words:

  1. “Will you come and follow me
    If I but call your name?
    Will you go where you don’t know
    And never be the same?
    Will you let my love be shown,
    Will you let my name be known,
    Will you let my life be grown
    In you and you in me?”
  2. “Will you leave yourself behind
    If I but call your name?
    Will you care for cruel and kind
    And never be the same?
    Will you risk the hostile stare
    Should your life attract or scare?
    Will you let me answer pray’r
    In you and you in me?”
  3. “Will you let the blinded see
    If I but call your name?
    Will you set the pris’ners free
    And never be the same?
    Will you kiss the leper clean,
    And do such as this unseen,
    And admit to what I mean
    In you and you in me?”
  4. “Will you love the ‘you’ you hide
    If I but call your name?
    Will you quell the fear inside
    And never be the same?
    Will you use the faith you’ve found
    To reshape the world around,
    Through my sight and touch and sound
    In you and you in me?”
  5. “Lord, your summons echoes true
    When you but call my name.
    Let me turn and follow you
    And never be the same.
    In your company I’ll go
    Where your love and footsteps show.
    Thus I’ll move and live and grow
    In you and you in me.”

A careful reading of this hymn reveals that the first four verses are Jesus’ call to every individual asking whether he or she will come and follow Him while the fifth verse is the individual’s response to the Lord’s summons.

On February 9th the congregation and choir sang the entire hymn, but I think it would be more powerful and participative if a solo tenor or bass sang the first four verses with the congregation and choir singing only the fifth verse.

[1]  Prior posts have discussed that service’s (a) Prayer of Confession; (b) an anthem beginning with the words “God be in my head;” (c) passages from the Bible’s book of Acts and the sermon’s drawing on them for comments concerning the vocations of Tabitha, Peter, Lydia and Paul; (d) a passage from Paul’s epistle from a Roman prison and the sermon’s drawing on them for comments about the preacher’s and her people’s vocations; (e) a hymn, “How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord;”  (f) another hymn, “Give Thanks, O Christian People;” and (g) an anthem, “Forth in They Name, O Lord, I Go.” Clicking on “Westminster Presbyterian Church” in the Tag Cloud at the top right of the blog will give you all of the posts about the church in reverse chronological order of posting.

[2] The Iona Community is a dispersed “Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.” It has three centers on the Isles of Iona and Mull off the west coast of Scotland. Its Wild Goose Resource Center seeks ”to enable and equip congregations and clergy in the shaping and creation of new forms of relevant, participative worship.”