Oceans of kindness (website only)

Authors & translators:
Richards, Alison (auth)
Composers & arrangers:
Richards, Alison (comp)
Composers & arrangers:
Howarth, Rosie

woman-at-shore-2-gettyimages-1219580288Oceans of kindness
and whispers of love
words of compassion 
and grace from above:
many the treasures
we hold in our hearts
one with each other
when we are apart. 

Rivers of sorrow,
and bridges of hope,
bind us together
when struggling to cope:
days full of heartache
bring evenings of tears
alone in the darkness
that fills us with fear. 


Rainbows of promise,
and stars in the skies,
faithful in covenant
O God, hear our cries;
sorrow and laughter
are mingled with pain,
beauty in small things
brings joy once again. 

Streams of forgiveness,
and wellsprings of peace,
grace in abundance
you bring to the feast,
Jesus our healer
you call us to come
giving your own life
that all may be one.


Water of new life,
and ripples of air,
Spirit eternal, 
God’s presence declare;
faith will transform us
as love conquers fear,
filled with compassion 
our calling we hear. 


Jesus, you gave your life for all
help us to reach out in love,
freedom from fear, and courage to change,
hope springs from justice and prayer –
to your peace. 

Words: Alison Richards, April 2020 rev. Nov. 2023

Tune: Alison Richards, arr. Rosie Howarth (without chorus); or *Beauty for brokenness (StF 693) (with chorus)

Metre: 55.55.D (with chorus)

Download ver.1 as a PDF (single line melody with accompaniment) [Note: this version includes the hymn's original words. For the revised words, use the text above.]

Download ver.2 as a PDF (four-part harmony arrangement)

Ideas for use

Alison’s gentle, empathetic words are well matched to her tune, whose lyricism is underpinned by determination and a steady movement towards a hope-filled conclusion. It will be worth spending time to teach and get to know this tune, which quickly sticks in the mind. It has been arranged with warmth and imagination by Rosie Howarth, who provides two versions: one which adds a flowing accompaniment and descant to the main melody line; and an alternative version in four-part harmony.

This first tune works with the verses alone. The alternative tune, ‘Beauty for brokenness’, requires the chorus, which expands on the image of Jesus as healer in verse 4.

More information

One member of the StF submissions group commented that this hymn felt “psalm-like”. Written out of the experience of the Covid pandemic, the words have since been revised and speak more generally to those occasions when we feel lonely, separated, or burdened by “days full of heartache” (v.2).

The oceans of kindness of the opening line speak of an underlying hopefulness but also of the apartness with which the first verse concludes. This balance is held throughout the hymn, whose reflectively prayerful journey is held together by the imagery of flowing water. It begins with the powerful, life-giving ocean and an acknowledgement of “rivers of sorrow”, and moves towards “streams of forgiveness” which, with Jesus as our guiding accompanier, lead us to the “water of new life” through which love conquers fear and transforms our way of being with the imperative of compassion. 

At the hymn’s central pivot point (v.3), Alison alludes to Yahweh’s promises both to Noah (“rainbows of promise” cf. Genesis 9) and Abraham, who is promised descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 22). Their experiences of trauma and sorrow and new beginnings sets a precedent for our own experiences, personal and national. 

In the version of the hymn with chorus, the selfless example of Jesus comes front and centre, inspiring us too to “reach out in love”, with “freedom from fear, and courage to change”.

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