Treading the path: hymns of “moving on”

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Hymns about change and risk-taking, inspired by an interview with Rosemary Wakelin – Travelling beyond the walls.

The world we thought we knew is changing fast (StF+) – by Rosemary Wakelin (written at a Methodist School of Fellowship gathering at Swanwick in Derbyshire) with the idea of “moving on” at its heart. She sets the activity of a “dynamic, pilgrim God” against our reluctance to change:

The world we thought we knew is changing fast,
And longingly we cling to what is past –
That settled life which made no great demand
Our foretaste of the hoped for promised land.

Your hand, O God, has guided (StF 692) ends each verse with a declaration of belief: “one Church, one faith, one Lord”, which recalls Rosemary’s insistence on “One human family…One world… One Christ… One Church…” Both hymns draw upon the Letter to the Ephesians, which speaks of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4: 4-5). In its opening line, Edward Plumptre’s hymn alludes to the historic requirement for God’s people continually to be moving on but Plumptre doesn’t explore that theme in the way that Rosemary Wakelin or Joy Dine (below) do. Instead this mid-Victorian text seems to emphasise a self-confident and established (self-satisfied and settled?) Church.

‘Moses, I know you’re the man’, the Lord said (StF 473) by Estelle White. The lesson we learn from the Israelite experience is that God’s people are “a travelling, wandering race”:

‘So if you want to be with me all your days,
keep up the moving and travelling on,
you’re the People of God.’

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God who sets us on a journey (StF+) by Joy Dine. Like “Moses, I know you’re the man”, this hymn explores the call to faith as a call to keep moving on:

When we set up camp and settle
to avoid love’s risk and pain,
you disturb complacent comfort,
pull the tent pegs up again.

Beyond these walls of worship (StF 547) by Ian Worsfold and Paul Wood. Ian and Paul understand the sometimes risky business of practising faith “beyond the walls”: not so much the walls of Jerusalem but the walls of our own church buildings:

will we display your love for all
when our faith’s put to the test?
When the people that surround us
deny that you are there,
will we display our faith in you…

Categories: StF+ hymn articles, Worship Resources.

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