A prayer in time of crisis

Lord God, creator, life of all we do:
friends, neighbours, family are our gift from you.
Now, in these days when we are kept apart,
may they be sure you hold them in your heart.

Lord, for the ill, and those approaching death:
give them your solace, through each laboured breath.
For those who serve with courage, skill and care
we ask your strength. You know the loads they bear.

Lord, in this time when much is set aside
show us the truths which busyness can hide.
Where wealth misguides us: Lord of life, forgive;
give grace to shape anew the way we live.

Lord, in adversity we learn again
there is no place where your love cannot reign!
Hear now our prayer, from fear our minds release;
grant both to us and to your world your peace.

Words © 2020 Tony Law. May be freely used in worship

Metre: 10.10.10.10.

Suggested tunes: Written with “Morecambe” in mind (H&P 778; MHB 688). May also be sung to “Eventide” – familiar as the tune to Abide with me (StF 141)

Ideas for use

Choice of tune makes a real difference here. The weight of the lines means that they are not easily sung to every 10.10.10.10. tune. “Morecambe” and “Eventide” work well; but when using “Eventide”, its association with the hymn “Abide with me” will add a new dimension to Tony’s words. As one member of the StF submissions group put it – “the notion of God abiding with us echoing as a sort of backdrop might be quite helpful”.

You may wish to consider using the two hymns together in different ways. Perhaps reading the first verse of Abide with me before singing Tony’s words; or using the full text of one hymn as a spoken prayer alongside the singing the of the other.

Also consider placing Tony’s hymns alongside one or other of the Fred Pratt Green texts mentioned below.

More information

The heading to Tony Law’s hymn is important. Written in response to the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, the hymn overall is a prayer of petition (request): “Hear now our prayer, from fear our minds release; / grant both to us and to your world your peace.” (v.4)

The opening of v.1 begins deliberately with an invocation (“Lord God, creator, life of all we do:”), followed by a statement of belief (“friends, neighbours, family are our gift from you.”), before moving into the theme of petition: “Now, in these days when we are kept apart, / may they be sure you hold them in your heart.”

Verse 3 closes with the acknowledgement of our need for God’s grace. Tony writes: “the words ‘give grace’ (line 3) follow on from the penitential ‘Lord of life, forgive’ in the previous line. This is intended to carry some sense of absolution and commission (as Peter is told by Jesus at the lakeside to "feed my lambs", John 21: 14-15). We are asking for more than just help.”

In an echo of the hymn’s thought-provoking opening line (“Lord God, creator, life of all we do”), the final verse also reminds us that all that we do and all that we have is gifted to us by God. Very deliberately, Tony speaks of “your world”: we live in God’s world, not ours. “Humanity”, he writes, “has too much assumed the world is ours to do as we will; and the reminder that (in Pratt Green's phrase) "the world is ours on lease" is deliberate.

See Fred Pratt Green’s hymn It is God who holds the nations in the hollow of his his hand (StF 705), v.4. This idea of “lease” is a strong one in Pratt Green’s writing. He repeats the it in Of all the Spirit’s gifts to me (StF 709 – “life itself is ours on lease”), and it informs God in his love for us lent us this planet (StF 727). For a variant of the same theme, also see For the fruits of all creation (StF 124), with its lines: “for the good we all inherit, thanks be to God”.