Great God, whose name and heart is love (website only)

Great God, whose name and heart is love,
Grace, hope and justice you approve;
Yet, through our vain, small minded days
We fail to live your holy ways.

Great God, you weep to see us fall,
Centred on self, not life for all;
You come in Christ to set us free,
We crucify him on a tree.

Yet God, in Christ, you rise again,
Offering hope to re-begin;*
The Spirit comes to open hearts
And prompts each one to play your part.

Living your justice – holy, true,
Sharing your love and faith anew;
Give grace and courage, God of peace,
That, through our witness, strife may cease.

Then shall we all your glory praise,
Peoples of every tongue and race;
Your holy way we then shall own
And God’s new life in Christ be known.

*Alternative line: Offering hope when we refrain.

Words: © November 2014, Andy Fyall

Metre: 88.88 (Long metre)
Suggested tune: Fulda (StF 401)

Alternative tunes: O Waly, Waly (StF 607); Niagara (StF 596)

Ideas for use

This hymn offers a commentary on peace appropriate for use on Remembrance Sunday (see below). However, its words will be helpful on many occasions of the year, not least in response to the news of conflicts and terrorism in our own country as well as around the world.

The alternative line, “Offering hope when we refrain” (v.3) is reminiscent of the declaration often attributed to Edmund Burke (and frequently appropriated in the cause of peace and justice) that “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”. This raises a challenge both for preacher and worshipping congregation, who may wish to wrestle with the question of whether we “do enough” to offer hope or to witness to the God of peace (v.4).

More information

Andy Fyall wrote this hymn for Remembrance Sunday 2014. “I was frustrated by the lack of hymns to complement the theme of the sermon, so I decided to put pen to paper.” Indeed, one member of the Singing the Faith Reference Group commented that, “as someone who habitually avoids Remembrance Day services, I find this text surprisingly helpful. It sets peace as the agenda without being strident.”

However, as Andy adds, “the hymn is more properly of a justice theme” and will be found appropriate at many times of the year. It rehearses themes of fall and forgiveness, death and resurrection (verses 2 and 3 especially) and so will be helpful, for example, during Holy Week and following Easter.

Of verse 2, which might be taken as a look back at events in history, Andy is clear that he is writing about the here and now. “Despite our desire to live like Christ, we often lose sight of the Christian way and therefore let Christ down or, in harsher terms, ‘continue to crucify him’.”

Andy Fyall was born in Newcastle upon Tyne. He was raised a Methodist and made a commitment to Christ at the age of ten. Following three years working for the Prudential financial services group as a District Agent, Andy sensed a call to ministry and took lay work positions in inner city Birmingham and Louth, Lincolnshire.. During this time he met Helen, also a lay worker, and they both candidated for Methodist ministry and training at Wesley College, Bristol, from 1993 after being married.

On leaving college they served in the Cardiff and Nottingham (South) Circuits between 1996 an 2009. Andy was appointed Superintendent Minister of the Stamford & Rutland Circuit in 2009 and Helen now works as Coordinating Chaplain at Peterborough City Hospital. They have two children, Hannah and Matthew.

Andy has a keen interest in creative writing, spending time on sabbatical in 2006 composing and compiling prayers and reflections for use in worship under the title, Aspects of Faith.

Categories: 88.88. Long Metre, Easter, Fulda, Fyall, Andy, Hymns only online (submit to stfplus@methodistchurch.org.uk), Jesus Risen and Ascended, Justice and Peace, Niagara, O Waly Waly, Remembrance Sunday.

2 Responses to Great God, whose name and heart is love (website only)

  1. David Booth says:

    I love this hymnbecause it does not just mourn or glorify the dead (and I lost relatives in both world wars).

    It tells us that there are things we must do to stop it happening again.

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