The world is fraught with danger (website only)

When fear turns to hope - the experience of St ThomasThe world is fraught with danger,

The world is fraught with danger,
we have no way to turn,
when war or sickness threaten
faith has so much to learn.
Uncertain, lost in anger,
frustrated, in the dark,
unsure of any meaning,
it seems we miss the mark.

Like Thomas we’re left wanting,
with need to know yet more,
for all we feel is shaking
and we are left unsure.
A mystery awaits us,
a vast unknowing cloud,
with nothing safe or certain –
a hope, or yet a shroud?

Here in the heart of hardship
where life is dead and gone
we sense a resurrection,
we meet the risen one?
One lasting fact surrounds us,
for though our grasp is slight,
God’s love will beckon onward,
a soft yet healing light.

Words: Andrew Pratt © 2018 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, www.stainer.co.uk
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Metre: 76.76.D

Suggested tunes: The tone of “Passion Chorale” (StF 273) works well with these words. You may also wish to test out singing them to “Aurelia” (StF 690), “Wolvercote” (StF 563i) or “Penlan” (StF 736)

Ideas for use

Though written with the story of St Thomas in mind (see below), here are words that offer a broad reflection on the mysteries of life and suffering in the world, making this a hymn appropriate in many contexts and throughout the year.

More information

Andrew describes these words as a further response to the post-Easter experience of the disciple Thomas – re-thinking Thomas’s questions and anxiety for the present day. See No hymns for Thomas?

Of the hymn’s questioning tone, Andrew notes that “we often make assertions in worship which, while treated as facts, are more often statements of faith. Mystery is mystery.” He recalls the words of Gordon Oliver (Holy Bible, Human Bible, 2006):

“It is worth asking if a person can really have faith in God who is revealed in the Bible if they are not in some sense agnostic. The opposite of agnostic is Gnostic, which means someone who is already fully ‘in the know’. If you are fully in the know you don’t need faith and you can’t make faith claims.”

Most strikingly, in verse 3, Andrew chooses to place a question mark after the words “we sense a resurrection, we meet the risen one”. He argues that if we were singing of Thomas at this point, then maybe a clear affirmation of faith might be more appropriate. After all, Thomas is arguably the first disciple to proclaim his conviction of the resurrection miracle: “My Lord and Lord my God!” (John 20: 28) However, Andrew says, at this point in the hymn it is not Thomas but us – contemporary Christians and seekers – who are singing, and our responses are varied. He concludes:

“Having stood by the grave of my son, (‘Here in the heart of hardship, / where life is dead and gone’), my reaction to this was to assert, beneath my breath, and in other words than these, that my son was six feet down. I don’t think I am alone when confronting death to wonder at the ‘fact’ of resurrection. Of one thing I am sure, the transcendent, eternal presence of love” -

God’s love will beckon onward,
a soft yet healing light.

Categories: 87.87.D. (Iambic), Aurelia, Conflict, Suffering and Doubt, Death, Judgement, Eternal Life, Hymns on StF+, Hymns only online (submit to stfplus@methodistchurch.org.uk), Jesus Risen and Ascended, Lent and Easter, Nature and Mystery of God, Passion Chorale, Penlan, Pratt, Andrew, The Communion of Saints, Wolvercote.

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