top of page


Somewhere I hear the Church Bells Ringing/Pentecost 2 O Christ the Healer we have come


Text: Gracia Grindal                                        Tune: Daniel Charles Damon

The Visitation by Giotto

1.        Somewhere I hear the church bells ringing

From cities, towns and countryside

And every cell within me singing

A song that cannot be denied:

The bells are telling with their sound

Good news to everything around!


2.        For as they ring, I feel my body

Leap up with joy to hear the news.

For now we know that youthful Mary

Is certain that the news is true:

The time has come—she is with child!

Ring out, wild bells, ring joyful, wild.


3.        For Mary, blest among all women

Is bearing God within her womb

Through her our Lord is fully human

In her divinity makes room

And comes to us as long foretold;

Ring in the new, ring out the old!


4.        Look up and see the sun is shining,

The bells are telling, bright as noon,

That in this joyful noonday chiming

We know that Christ is coming soon!

Through Mary’s body, heaven nears!

Ring out, wild bells, ring out with cheer!



The Visitation. by Rembrandt

Even though the Visitation receives little attention in our Sunday lectionary, this Friday, when the church marks the day, I would urge congregations and pastors to make note of this event in the life of Mary and its significance to us today. Maybe even remember it on Sunday where the assigned lesson is Jesus’ healing. Without Mary’s yes to bearing the Lord, the story would have been rather different.


Mary has maybe gone to her cousin Elizabeth to escape the gossips in her home town. Maybe Joseph has advised her to do so. She knows that Elisabeth is pregrant as well. When she goes, Luke invests her journey and her meeting with Elizabeth with a great deal of biblical weight. The richest resonance is David’s bringing the ark to Jerusalem. Mary is like the ark of the covenant now in her body as she bears the Incarnate one in her womb. In 2 Samuel 2: 1, we see David going to Judah to bring up the ark of God. Mary is the ark of God now bringing the king of heaven to the people.


David, for good reason is afraid to carry the ark since God had struck down Uzzah for inappropriately touching it. “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” he asks. Elisabeth on greeting Mary says much the same, “Why is it granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Lk 1:43.


As the ark stays in Obededom three months, Mary stays with Elisabeth for three months. Elisabeth knows, as does the baby John in her womb, this is the holy one. She tells Mary that the child she is bearing, to her great surprise, kicked with joy as his Lord, in Mary’s body, came near.


All this in the simplest of people. The holy has chosen to dwell in the most ordinary of places with the most ordinary of people.


No wonder that the medieval church in its wisdom made the Angelus a daily prayer.

In between the Hail, Marys are three responses, one to remember the conception of our Lord, the second, to remember Mary’s gracious acceptance, and the third, to remember and renew our belief in the promise of the Incarnation. For more on this rich history click here


The Angelus by Millett

It has a long and complicated history that I cannot treat here, but it is a part of the incarnation that we should treasure. It prompted some of the most beautiful paintings in the history of the church. One of which has been misunderstood is Millet’s painting of a couple out in the fields at sunset praying. The painting is called The Angelus. They are praying the Angelus prayer which was prayed three times a day. Many people, even art historians, who look at the picture have described it purely in terms of the couple and their work, missing the religious significance of it.


It is a beautiful statement of the way our Christian lives are to be lived: entirely in the routine of the rhythms of planting and harvest, of finding in the earth and from it all we need to sustain our lives and giving thanks. The Christian life is not a movement of greater to greater conquests. It is the faithful daily round of activities in which we work and rest knowing that God is with us in every part of the day, in our routine, our joys and our sorrows. It is what he came for, what his incarnation means. And, it has the happiest of all endings: eternal life. Because of Mary, and her trust in God, we have Christ the Healer



There are not many Protestant hymns for the Visitation, but there should be. I wrote this one and Daniel Damon wrote this very lovely melody.

F. Pratt Green

F. Pratt Green led the Hymn Explosion of the 1960s in England. He and Fred Kaan responded to the call for new hymns, in much the same way that Anders Frostenson did in Sweden. As a long time Methodist pastor Pratt Green knew the issues in congregations and wrote hymns that spoke for the people in them. After his retirement, he devoted himself to writing hymns. He wanted to write hymns that were better poetry than some of the poorly wrought songs of his day, he said. He became extremely popular over his long lifetime as a hymn writer. People loved his message and his concerns. In 1993 he was awarded an MBE from the Queen for his work in hymnody.

The tune is from the Sacred Harp tradition and much beloved. Several tunes work well with the text.


Robert Powell playing the tune Distress

Nativity Church/another tune

First Plymouth Church Lincoln Nebraska/Talllis Canon




213 views0 comments


bottom of page