- Singing the Faith: 527 (CD22 #2)
- Ruth Duck
- Ian Howarth
- 88.88. Long Metre
NOTE: This hymn has been cleared on behalf of the copyright administrator, The Pilgrim Press Permissions Department, for reproduction on local service sheets and also for projection via the Singing the Faith electronic words edition of the hymn book published by Hymns Ancient and Modern. Copyright ownership should be indicated when this hymn is reproduced.
Ruth Duck’s prayers of intercession in this hymn are underscored by a powerful desire for justice; and in particular, equality for the voices of females and children. Indeed, this is a hymn that might legitimately have found its place in the Justice and Peace section of Singing the Faith.
The hymn’s language is not complex, but the concision of the lines combined with striking phrase-making mean that Ruth’s concerns are crystal clear and memorable:
. . . a sheltered place, where love is tender, undefiled. . .
. . . where passion’s fire burns not in force or careless lust. . .
. . . where leaders guide with prudent care. . .
. . . and none will batter, rape, abuse.
This last list of violent experiences is also taken up in Ruth’s hymn Sacred the body God has created (StF 618)
Specific examples may well come to mind from the singing of this hymn, of abuse, and of power wielded without consideration for the other. We may supply instances from the news, from our own experience, or that of loved ones or members of our communities. We may also supply examples of healing that have addressed these situations – the sheltered places; the safety in “arms of faith and trust”; or where community or political leaders have “nurture life for great and small”.
Yet, for all the anger and clear-sightedness that we may imagine has inspired Ruth’s writing, there is nothing shouty or forceful hymn. Rather, it is imbued with a sense of deep sadness and compassion; a mood taken up by Ian Howarth’s aptly named tune, “Haven”. It matches the words by moving gently from sorrow in the opening two lines of each verse to something more like loving determination in the second two. This feels right for, as Ruth as said:
“Although they may treat controversial issues, I seek not to be polemic in my hymn texts, but rather set out to create words that particular communities can sing to express their hope and their commitment to act so that God’s will be done ‘on earth as in heaven’.”