HYMN FOR ALL SAINTS DAY "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God" REFORMATION SUNDAY
Bonus: All Saint's Pumpkin Recipe Text: Lesbia Scott (1898-1986) Tune: John Henry Hopkins (1861-1945) 1 I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green:
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too. 2 They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and God’s love made them strong;
and they followed the right, for Jesus’ sake,
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast:
and there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn’t be one too. 3 They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too. REFLECTIONS
When they took a “desert island” test of hymns people would want to have with them if they were abandoned on a desert island, this one made the list! It is a happy marriage of text and tune that takes pleasure in both the language—which is concrete and fun—and a tune which carries the kind of fizzy joy of the text. This may seem more nursery rhyme than solemn hymn, but why not? It teaches kids, the ones who especially love this and carry that love into adulthood, about the saints and martyrs of the church and the way they suffered and died for their faith. It also teaches the kids they can be saints simply by following in the way of Jesus. All told in a rollicking way desired for Bible songs or Sunday school songs. I first heard it when I was fifteen. My organ teacher, Miss Ruth Bedford, decided that she would rather do something else on Saturday morning than accompany the children's choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Salem and let me do it. It would be good experience for me and she would be free. So every Saturday morning, just as the Saturday cleaning was ramping up into high gear, Father John would pick me up and take me to the church. I loved the job, playing the pipe organ, learning the Anglican chants for the liturgies, especially Matins and Vespers, and hymns of the Episcopal Hymnal 1940 . Furthermore, I had escaped my Saturday duties, plus I made $5.00 a Saturday for the privilege. When we got to this hymn, it was sheer fun to see the kids almost shouting “fierce wild beast.” And then the challenge to be brave for the sake of Jesus today. Saints teach us courage, standing up against the powers that be, and never giving up. Something we seem not to be teaching so much these days. This is too bad. Kids need to have heroes that show them how to act in treacherous situations. Giving everyone a trophy, simply for participation, while well intentioned, deprives us of leaders in the next generation. Kids, especially boys today, want to struggle and compete. It is part of their character development to understand that suffering and loss brings wisdom and shows them that courage is necessary. Right now as Halloween approaches, the children in my house are dressing up as heroes and heroines whose intelligence and bravery they admire. They live in those stories. Christian children for millennia have drawn courage from the stories of the saints—after the Reformation which we remember today, Fox’ Book of Martyrs provided an endless supply of stories of courage in the face of dreadful persecution. Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan gave both boys and girls models of behavior in the face of the devil and worldly temptations. Christian and in the later, lesser known volume, his wife Christiana, face many adventures on their way to the heavenly city. It gave Christians a story to embolden them and draw them onward in their pilgrimage. The writer N. H. Keeble wrote in his book Pilgrimage , the pilgrim must be valiant and have courage. “To recount the Protestant pilgrimage is hence to tell an adventure story.” [i] The Christian life is a thriller, something I’m not sure we’ve made clear to our youth who need a good adventure story to live into. Bernard Christensen, President of Augsburg College and Seminary for many years, wrote in his book The Inward Pilgrimage , “The pilgrim way is long and rugged, often full of danger. But the resources of God are ever at hand. To overcome and arrive safe at home at last, it is only necessary that we be willing to make the decisive choice, to set forth, to continue in the way.” [ii] Church maybe would be more attractive to the young today if we told the stories of the saints and challenged them with the thrilling adventures of the faithful, and the courage it takes to begin and continue our pilgrimage. Let’s use this weekend to recount some of those adventure stories, even including the heroic story of Martin Luther, to our young. We all desperately need to hear them and gain the courage they instill. (For those who want to hear Bach's Cantata 80 on A Mighty Fortress, click here: https://youtu.be/mEwjYFhOcTs HYMN INFO Lesbia Scott, when she was a young mother, is said to have written this text, among others, for her children to teach them biblical and churchly stories. She put together a book of these hymns and tunes, which she illustrated, Everyday Hymns For Little Children , in 1929. When the Episcopal priest John H. Hopkins, Jr. read the text, he composed the current tune, Grand Isle , the name of the lake in Vermont where he lived. It appeared in time to be included in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940 . When The Hymnal 1982 committee proposed getting rid of it for "lack of theological profundity"a huge reaction and letter writing campaign caused it to be retained. A good thing, that! LINKS Children's choir https://youtu.be/Uhjz4lyYSsU St. Columba Episcopal Church https://youtu.be/tFIy-iUZKhU Illustrated book version of song https://youtu.be/hS9P2smNLpM ALL SAINTS' PUMPKIN RECIPE Preheat oven to ca 330-350 degrees Hollow out one medium sized pumpkin. Saute in butter one diced onion, several diced garlic cloves, sliced green, yellow and red peppers and as much raw jumbo shrimp as you can afford! 2 lbs is what I use Put the rice in the pumpkin. On top of that the sauted vegetables, Then the shrimp. Add 4 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper. And some chicken broth. Replace top of pumpkin and seal it tightly--strong toothpicks work. Place it in a frying pan or something with a low rim so you can lift it into a serving bowl. (it will be heavy!) Bake until done--I usually do a little under three hours. Take out and remove to large bowl. Cut open. The rice is always the surprise--will it be done? It depends on how much liquid the pumpkin produces. This year I overdid the broth so we had soup until we quickly brought the rice and shrimp to a boil for a bit! (Sometimes to avoid anxiety about this mysterious process, some precook the rice, but I never have. Usually it is done, but sometimes al dente would describe the rice, to my dismay.) Enjoy! FOOTNOTES
[i] N. H. Keeble, ”Constructing the Protestant life in Early Modern England,” Pilgrimage: The English Experience from Becket to Bunyan , ed. Colin Morris and Peter Roberts. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2002), pp. 238-256.
[ii] Inward Pilgrimage , p. 90.