The right hand of God is writing in our land (StF 715)

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The right hand of God is writing in our land 

Source: Singing the Faith: 715
Words: Patrick Prescod
Music: “The right hand of God” by Noel Dexter
Metre: Irregular
Verses: 6

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Categories: Dexter, Noel G., Guitar chords available, Irregular, Justice and Peace, Prescod, Patrick, The Right Hand of God.

5 Responses to The right hand of God is writing in our land (StF 715)

  1. Nigel Irons says:

    The terminology of God’s right hand is used in the Old Testament to refer to the hand with which God exercises his power. The image comes from a culture where soldiers would almost exclusively bear the sword in their right hand. There probably were left handed soldiers too, but everyone has one arm which through use becomes stronger than the other, and for people in those days this was mostly the right (as it still is today). So this is referring to God’s strongest arm, the arm in which God wields whatever weapons he is using, the arm by which God is perceived to do mighty things. Only one arm can do this. It would not be true to the imagery to refer to God’s ‘arms’ in order to try and equalise things out. The imagery is not seeking to denegrate those for whom things might be different, it is simply asking to be respected for what it is.

  2. Wendy Bridgeman says:

    I have heard that it mentioned that the right hand would be no good without a left and they complement each other one to hold the other to shape. Although I fully understand the negative attitude there has been towards left handed ness. We must not let this make us lose sight of the picture that has been painted here in this hymn .

  3. Thank you for your reply which I do not agree with. I have pointed out the bad logic of this hymn to a right handed parent of a left handed child who said that they had never realised it before but the hymn did indeed make out left handed people as being second class.
    The Good News Bible refers to the right hand side of God whereas the KJV says the right hand of God. Neither says however that the right hand of God is doing anything at all. The hymn constantly repeats that the right hand of God is moving. A newcomer to the Church might wonder what the left hand of God is doing.
    Since the Bible has many references to he rather than she the tendency is now for gender balance as is seen in many old hymns which have now been changed in StF. Surely this imbalance is also deeply embedded in scripture. To correct gender imbalance was part of the remit of the StF authors. So if this emphasis can be changed in StF why cannot you see that it is offensive to left handed people to sing this hymn?
    Can you please tell me if there any modern hymn writers who refer to the right hand of God?
    Left handed people until relatively recent years were often decried at school and told to write right handed. People now acknowledge that this was an injustice to left handed people- yet this hymn perpetuates the myth that left handed people are inferior.

  4. Peter Richardson says:

    This hymn discriminates against left handed people. As such I am amazed that the wording has not been altered! So many other traditional hymns have been changed in StF but surely this one should be changed. Any left handed stranger entering a Methodist church for the first time could be quite offended by the lyrics.

    • Editor says:

      As someone with close left-handed relatives, I have some sympathy with your comments, Peter. I think it’s fair to acknowledge, though, the way in which this image draws upon its deeply embedded use in scripture as a symbol of authority and power – God’s in particular. Jesus is said to be exalted “at God’s right hand” (e.g. Mark 14:62; Romans 8:34). Were scripture being written today, there might be some sensitivity to the issue you raise but it isn’t always present in the traditions within which we worship and upon which many hymn writers draw.

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