HYMN FOR TRINITY SUNDAY Father in Heaven, Grant to your children
Swedish: Himmelske Fader, ge åt oss alla
Text: Daniel Thambyrajah Niles (1908-1962) Tune: Elena G. Maquiso (1914-1995)
1 Father in heaven, grant to your children mercy and blessing, songs never-ceasing; love to unite us, grace to redeem us, Father in heaven, Father, our God.
2 Jesus, Redeemer, may we remember your gracious passion, your resurrection: Worship we bring you, praise we shall sing you, Jesus, Redeemer, Jesus, our Lord.
3 Spirit descending, whose is the blessing: strength for the weary, help for the needy; sealing Christ's Lordship, blessing our worship, Spirit descending, Spirit adored.
REFLECTIONS This is a sweet, simple text for Trinity. It addresses the three persons of the Trinity and teaches us their work. Orthodox theologians want us to be careful not to separate the three persons into their separate functions. All three persons create, save, and give life. But we also have a long tradition of remembering the role of each person in their fellowship with us. We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus with the Spirit.
I cannot think of prayer meetings and the presence of the Spirit without returning to my teen aged years when I was forced to attend the weekly bible study and prayer meeting. No matter what—homework, practice, school—there was no excuse for me. So along with my parents and siblings we would finish the dishes and rush out to the church three blocks away. Since the meetings were mostly in the winter, and this was in the Willamette Valley, it was always raining. The church was right on Highway 99 going north out of town and as we sat in the very plain home mission church reading Scripture together, the cars speeding by us sounded like rushing water.
As the quiet settled down around us, and people began opening their hearts to God with named and unnamed requests, I would get a picture of the lives they were living from their petitions. If they struggled with sin, that would be clear. If they cared about mission, that would emerge in their words. And if they mentioned an unknown request, I would usually have an idea it had something to do with their kids. So did everyone else. And even as a somewhat cynical teenager, I could not deny the presence of the Spirit in the meetings. The swishing of the cars, sounded like a rushing wind. As one after another broke into the silence with their prayer, filled with sighing, one could hear the intimacy of their relationship with the Lord—this was heart to heart talk with their friend and Heavenly Father. The softly breathed amens brought us together into one body. One might even hear some distress in their words and my mother who didn’t miss much would tell my father You need to visit him or her. At the end, when the last person had offered up a prayer, the silence began to break. My father would sing "Have Thine Own Way" and we would stand up and after warm greetings, go out into the sparkling rain of the evening.
On the whole, these were not educated people. Their language of prayer, however, had a kind of majesty to it because it was the language of the King James Version of the Bible, the one book they read over and over again. Over the years one could hear them growing more wise and eloquent about their faith and relationship with God.
If we get this day right, we should stand amazed that the great Creator of all in his infinite mercy has made it possible for everyone—from the great to the small—to be in direct and intimate relationship with God. Our faith can be spread from person to person simply by our testimony. That is how the Gospel first spread around the Roman Empire. Soldiers told it to others soldiers; workmen testified of their new faith to their neighbors; nurses to those they cared for.
The word--Jesus Christ--came to life by the power of the Spirit and brought the entire deity into the hearts of each one who heard and believed.
Daniel Thambyrajah Niles, one of the great leaders of the Christian church in the 20th century, grew up in Ceylon/Sri Lanka, the son and grandson of Methodist pastors. At the first assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1948, he attracted attention for his powerful preaching. He led many international Christian organizations, and served a term as President of the WCC. He wrote several hymns. This is one of his most popular. The composer, from the Philippines, served in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and was a professor in Christian Education at the SU Divinity School. She wrote many hymns during her lifetime.
LINKS Revd Paul Monk/Wellspring for Worship https://youtu.be/1Uj060nzx7Q
Aderoh Benedict https://youtu.be/TmasSTokWZI
John Keys at the organ https://youtu.be/L5LpidPnVz0
URC St. James’ Newcastle Hymns https://youtu.be/1j0eRYvlf2c