Thursday, 23 October 2008

A hymn by Caryl Micklem

Give to me, Lord, a thankful heart
and a discerning mind:
give, as I play the Christian's part
the strength to finish what I start
and act on what I find.

When, in the rush of days, my will
is habit-bound and slow
help me to keep in vision still
what love and power and peace can fill
a life that trusts in you.

By your divine and urgent claim
and by your human face
kindle our sinking hearts to flame
and as you teach the world your name
let it become your place.

Jesus, with all your Church I long
to see your kingdom come:
show me your way of righting wrong
and turning sorrow into song
until you bring me home.

copyright (c) Caryl Micklem

Sometimes in my working day I feel blessed - it happens more often than I freely admit - and this week I came across a copy of New Church Praise (NCP) given by a group of people visiting Geneva from the West Midlands synod of the United Reformed Church in 1980. That was my home synod and the book was signed by Fred Kaan, our moderator at the time. With this book in my hand I just had to pause, flick through the hymns and then start singing. It was this hymn by Caryl Micklem that set me off. I hadn't sung it for years I suppose yet it felt like an old friend and I realised how much wonderful words like this formed my spirituality and theological reflection as I was training for the ministry. Caryl himself always rather impressed and frightened me with his deep learning and spiritual intelligence. As I surprised myself and my colleagues by singing in my office I was particularly moved by the couplet "show me your way of righting wrong and turning sorrow into song"
It was only when I typed out the words and looked for a link that I discovered that this is the one of Caryl's hymns that was sung at his funeral. If you get a chance to sing it do sing it to his own tune, Gatescarth. The minor key fits it perfectly and lifts the words in exactly the right way.