With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 7 – Wednesday after 1st Sunday of Lent
To Listen: Go Forth With God
Go forth with God!
The day is now that thou must meet the test of youth,
Salvation’s helm upon thy brow,
Go girded with the living truth.
In ways thine Elder Brethren trod thy feet are set,
Go forth with God!
Think fair of all and all men love,
And with the builder bear thy part:
Let every duty prove
the witness of thy heart.
Go forth! ‘Tis God bids thee increase the bounds
Of Love and Joy and Peace.
Behold with thine uplifted eyes
Beauty through all that sorrow seems,
And make of earth a Paradise,
The substance of thy dearest dreams.
Bring laughter to thy great employ,
Go forth with God and find His joy,
Go forth! Go forth!
Go forth with God!
The world awaits the coming of the pure and strong,
Strike for the faith and storm the gates
That keep the citadel of wrong.
Glory shall shine about thy road, great heart,
If thou go forth with God!
Barclay Baron, whose poem Shaw set to the music was a 20th Century Anglican layman who was dedicated to the cause of Christian social work throughout his adult life. First an avid supporter of the YMCA, after World War I he became a major figure in the Toc H movement, a British Christian soldier’s club at Talbot House which later evolved into a broader social support organization
From the Scriptures:
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
When I turned thirty I thought I was getting old and sat myself down to think about how I could improve the future. I asked myself when I was happiest in my life and determined that I would try to learn some lessons from my younger self. I chose, from then onwards to behave as if I was 14 again. 14 was a lovely age, I came second in class and won the Geography prize, which meant tow book prizes at Speech Day this was followed by long lazy summer days in which Valerie Rumble and I spent the time snogging each other in the spinney behind Gosport Lido. Ah, young love.
Now having just turned 66 I long for adolescence once more (I suppose these reflections is one way in which I am trying to remember the lessons I forgot from my earlier years). Adolescents are fun and full of the future. They are also chock full of hormones, adrenaline, and probably a little too much sugar!
Several days a week I collect bread from a local bakery for our Parish Pantry at the same time as the youngsters from Felixstowe School are set free from classes. A glorious flood of humanity and hope passes before my eyes and my heart is filled to overflowing with joy. I have the same experience when I spend time with Air Cadets and Sea Cadets, Scouts and Girl Guides. The cares of the day and the world slip away as I realise that the future is in safe hands and all I need be in the lives of these young adults is a cheerleader for each adventure and a comforter when they feel fragile.
Adolescents are volcanoes of passion and possibility and it is the task of adults to support and encourage them for, as the movie Moana reminds us, eventually the lava flow cools, seed germinates, and disaster is turned into a paradise where flower blooms, fruit ripens and everyone prospers. All adults need do is encourage adolescents to strike out into the ocean of life and chase ‘the line where the sea meets the sky’.
Today’s hymn, from aged 14 to, well 66 actually, is my ‘go out and grab life in God’s name’ hymn. It was in my era at the Royal Hospital School the final hymn sung at the end of each school year and sent us out with purpose for the next 8 weeks of summer leave. The words always challenge me to follow my forebears and at the same time become more ‘me’ as I try to carve out a path in life with God at my side and as my Guide. Am I occasionally a ‘volcano overflowing with passion and possibilities’? You bet I am! Which is one of the reasons why I want to be there for adolescents. I needed wise guidance on my journey old-wards and do not want any young person to feel they have to do all this alone.
It is not easy to go on the quest to ‘the line where the sea meets the sky’, and those of us who have tried, succeeded, and perhaps even failed, should be on the beaches shouting out our encouragement instead of belittling the ‘yoof of today’ as too many people are tempted to do.
Occasionally at a High School Assembly I remind the students that I am now an old man (and a stale, male, pale one at that!) and I have done my protest marches, I have been arrested, I have ridden the high seas with faith in God through a world that will not recognise its Creator, now it’s over to them to seize the day.
The adults biggest challenge when it comes to adolescents is to not always talk about ‘back in the day’ but instead to get out of the way and let them through as they go out to transform a world that we have not always been able to cherish.
Crown us, O God, but with humility,
and robe us with compassion,
that, as you call us into the kingdom of your Son,
we may strive to overcome all evil
by the power of good
and so walk gently on the earth
with you, our God, for ever.
1) Support a local Youth Project. This may be as a volunteer, a committee member, a funder, or just baking a cake and dropping it around. I guarantee every crumb will be eaten
2) Cast your mind back to time when you were younger and perhaps more content with life. What lessons can your younger self teach your older self about living a full-life?
Reprise: The Day Thou Gavest
The Evening Hymn and the Sunset Ceremony which follows it on Military Occasions always grabs my heart. When I was younger it brought me closer to my Dad in a submarine patrolling under the Polar Ice Cap. Growing older it reminded me in, what sometimes seemed to be far away South Africa, that the whole Church was one.
This version is from the service at St Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended:
the darkness falls at thy behest;
to thee our morning hymns ascended;
thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping,
while earth rolls onward into light,
through all the world her watch is keeping,
and rests not now by day or night.
As o’er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.
The sun that bids us rest is waking
our brethren ‘neath the western sky,
and hour by hour fresh lips are making
thy wondrous doings heard on high.
So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never,
like earth’s proud empires, pass away;
thy kingdom stands, and grows for ever,
till all thy creatures own thy sway.
(John Ellerton – 1826-1893)
This hymn is best followed by these words between the Officer on Parade and the Parade Marshall;
What time is it?
Make it so!
P.S. the Royal Hospital School Choir the singing at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance from the Albert Hall each year. If you’ve enjoyed listening to 700 hundred boys and a few staff singing absolute ‘bangers’ click this link to view an episode of Songs of Praise from1965. Fortunately this was two years before my voice joined the school and ruined the singing.
Please Note: These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin
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Prayers are adapted from the Psalm Prayers in the Common Worship Psalter. material from which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘With a Song in my Heart’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2022