Fred Pratt Green wrote the text to our opening hymn is "God Is Here". Green was a British Methodist minister and hymn writer. His hymns reflect his rejection of fundamentalism and his concern for social issues. Green is also known for his notable translations of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's late poems as the hymn, "By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered" (ELW #626). Cyril V. Taylor wrote the tune ABBOT'S LEIGH while working at the BBC in Abbbot’s Leigh, England during WWII. It was written to replace the famous German tune AUSTRIA.
Charlotte Elliott, the text writer of "Just As I Am" was one of our composers of interest during Lent last year. She is just another example of many who have triumphed over personal struggle through a strong faith. Elliott grew up in a very 'religious' household but struggled in her faith due to a severe illness and was in constant pain. When pressed by a friend if she would consider coming to Christ she replied, "I am miserable. I want to but I don't know how". He replied, "why not come just as you are?". Later in life Elliott remembered this exchange and wrote the famous poem. There are four hymn tunes of William B. Bradbury's in the ELW. His most famous tune is "Jesus Loves Me!".
There is a new hymn this week, "Baptized and Set Free" (ELW 453) by Cathy Skogen-Soldner that I believe sums up our blessed Sunday perfectly. While the hymn is in the 'Holy Baptism' section of the hymnal the text talks about how we are all welcome, God nourishes, feeds, forgives us, baptizes us and brings wholeness. Skogen-Soldner is a living, contemporary Christian music composer and had this to say about her work,
"I started composing contemporary Christian music to address two specific needs in our church: children's Christmas programs and contemporary praise & worship music. I've been writing ever since - worship services for children and adults, a youth musical, children's and preschool musicals for all seasons, and lots more.
I'm a farm girl who took piano lessons as a kid and taught myself to play guitar in junior high (actually, I ordered a book, "Learn How to Play Guitar in 7 Days or Your Money Back", and it worked!). My first love is the piano, but the guitar is much more portable!"
Our final hymn, "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" is a favorite the world over. Jaroslav Vajda was an American hymnist born whose father was a Lutheran pastor of Slovak descent. He didn't write his first hymn until he was 49 but from that time until his death in 2008 at the age of 89 he wrote over 200 original and translated hymns and his works are included in over 65 hymnals. Proof that you never know how and when the Holy Spirit will work in your life!