All Saints and All-hallows Eve

Worship Resources:
Festivals and Seasons:
All Saints

Decorating the tombs - All Saints in New Orleans, 1885, by John Durkin (Creative Commons)

Hymns for All Saints

Singing the Faith Plus offers hymn suggestions appropriate to All Saints in a number of its sections, including The Communion of Saints (743-748) and Life and Unity in the Church (e.g. Rosemary Wakelin's One human family God has made, StF 687).  Andrew Herbert's fine communion hymn, We gather round this table (website only), is also worth exploring

Hymns in The Communion of Saints section include alternatives to the familiar For all the saints who from their labours rest (StF 745), with its magnificent and triumphant tune, “Sine Nomine”. Gentler in tone is John Bell and Graham Maule’s hymn, set to the English folk tune “O waly waly”, that begins with the same words:

For all the saints who showed your love
in how they lived and where they moved,
for mindful women, caring men,
accept our gratitude again. (StF 746)

This is a text that helps us reflect on what it was about women and men – how they acted and followed Jesus’ example – that makes them saints in our eyes.

Rosemary Wakelin’s One human family God has made (StF 687) asks whether we are brave enough to join that great company of earlier Christians who have followed Jesus’ example even when it has led to death (StF 687, v.3).

Hymns for Halloween

Halloween makes more sense for Christians when they remember its intimate relationship to the festival of All Saints, argues Laurence Wareing. Read “Halloween – a thin place?”

Are there hymns that help us make sense of Halloween?

The words of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 25:7-8a) are echoed in the opening lines of Graham Kendrick’s Advent hymn (StF 170), which are not afraid to name the presence of evil around us:

Darkness like a shroud covers the earth.
Evil like a cloud covers the people.
But the Lord will rise upon you
And his glory will appear on you,
nations will come to your light.

Similarly, another Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Immanuel” (StF 180) calls on God’s representative to “free / your own from Satan’s tyranny; from depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave”.

David Adam, a popular writer in the Celtic tradition, offers us a prayer to sing when we are afraid of bad things and bad times around us: “Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm; still me, Lord, keep me from harm” (StF 624).

"Deep in the darkness" - Sanok cemetery, All Saints Day 2013 (Photo by Silar, Creative Commons)

Both Jan Berry and Matt Redman write in the tradition of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd”, when they acknowledge the darkness in which we walk at times but point us towards light and hope – the brightness of All Saints that follows the darkness of All-hallows Eve. See Jan Berry’s “Deep in the darkness a starlight is gleaming” (StF 625), with its uncompromising reminder that “Out of the darkness the voices are crying, / terror and fear screaming loud in the night”; and “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (StF 626).

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