- Singing the Faith: 639 (CD26 #14)
- Mary Peters
- “Ar hyd y nos” (trad)
Ideas for use
Though placed within the "Conflict, Suffering and Doubt" section of Singing the Faith, this is a beautiful hymn of blessing and hope ("We expect a bright tomorrow; all will be well" - v.3). As such, it will serve well as the closing hymn of a service. Instead of a spoken blessing or sharing of the Grace, the congregation members may instead sing the first verse, which ends: "strong the hand stretched forth to shield us; all must be well." If sung regularly, this may well become part of a congregation's regular liturgy, just as other hymns (e.g. Be still, for the presence of the Lord (StF 20)) are used by some to start every worship service.
Extending this idea, have different groups (e.g. women/men) sing verses 1 and 2 (so offering a blessing to each other), with all joining together for the final verse.
The tune Ar hyd y nos (used also for other hymns in Singing the Faith) comes from the bardic tradition of Welsh harpists and takes it name from the lullaby: “Sleep my child, and peace attend thee, all through the night”. The setting, originally included in Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards (1784), was designed to be sung by the harpist with his/her listeners joining in the refrain “ar hyd y nos”. It's an approach that could be echoed in this hymn: a soloist or small group singing each verse with everyone joining in with the refrain “all will be well”.
This is the only hymn in Singing the Faith that was in the 1933 Methodist Hymn Book but not in 1983’s Hymns and Psalms. Mary Peters’ assurance of faith in difficult times is clear, especially in verses 2 and 3. The Revd Mark Woods has pointed out the echoes of Julian of Norwich’s 'revelation of divine love': "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well". He notes that the confidence of ‘all will be well’ is placed in the grace of God - salvation, not material wellbeing.
Some older biographies speak of Mary Peters (née Bowly) (1813-1856) being widowed at 21, but in fact she married the secessionist minister John Peters at the age of 39. George Müller, one of the founding members of the Plymouth Brethren, conducted the ceremony. John and Mary lived at Quenington, Gloucestershire. John had previously been Rector there and at Langford but had given up his living to run a small chapel. Soon after their marriage they moved to Clifton, Bristol, where Mary died four years later. Mary is credited with 58 hymns (of which “Through the love of God” has become the most popular) and a prose work: The World’s History from the Creation to the Accession of Queen Victoria, published in seven volumes. Mary wrote her hymns before the age of 30, and many of them were included in Brethren hymn books.
Matthew Smith of the Indelible Grace collective wrote a tune to this hymn and it is included on their 2007 album Wake Thy Slumbering Children.
See Songs for St David.