Adonai, eternal, almighty, King of glory,
all Wisdom, astounding, exalted, God of all things,
immortal, all-knowing, all-loving, understanding,
all-seeing, believing, accepting, liberating,
the author, designer, sustainer, ever-present God.
The Alpha, beginning, inception, root of all life,
incarnate, among us, within us, Word now spoken,
Immanuel, peace-bringing, releasing, man of sorrows,
Redeemer, deliverer, anointed King of Heaven,
Omega, our ending, our meaning, all-embracing God.
Inspirer, comforter, truth-bringer, Holy Spirit,
unfailing, protecting, our shield, and intercessor,
all-trusting, releasing, empowering, non-coercing,
the Counsellor, expectant, ever - illuminating.
Together in Oneness, one endless Trinitarian God.
Words © 2019 Clare Stainsby
Music © 2019 Clare Stainsby Downloadable as a PDF
Ideas for use
The music Clare has provided for her hymn has a deliberately reflective quality, while at the same time using the rising key changes to build both a tension in the music and a movement of praise towards “one endless Trinitarian God”.
The pattern of names used here lend themselves to “slow reading” and meditative praying as well as singing. Sharing the names that are most meaningful to us, and why, might become a focus for a small group discussion or a part of worship.
Are there names here that you find more challenging than others? Are there names for God that you might wish to add to the poem?
“In our twentieth century Western culture, personal names are little more than labels to distinguish one person from another”, says suggests one Bible website.* It adds: “In Scripture, the names of God are like miniature portraits and promises.” Leo Purdue expands on that rather lovely description by reminding us (Harper’s Bible Dictionary p.685) that “in the ancient Near East, great significance was attached to personal names, for they revealed character and identity and signified existence. The revelation of a divine name and its continued use were of substantial importance for a people.”
Clare Stainsby’s hymn, therefore, is far more than a list of names; it is a meditation on the character of God, and on the trinitarian manner in which the divine presence continues to be revealed to us: kaleidoscopic and ever-changing. Its title and opening name, Adonai (meaning “My Great Lord”), is a reminder that from earliest times alternative descriptions of God were introduced by the people of Israel in order to protect the sanctity of the letters YHWH ascribed to the divine (and pronounced Yahweh).
At the same time, Clare balances ancient descriptions of God with more contemporary images and phrases, for example in the final verse, “all-trusting, releasing, empowering, non-coercing”. In building her poem, she moves steadily between the three persons of the Trinity – from Creator (“Author, Designer”), to God revealed in Jesus (“Immanuel. . . man of sorrows”) and Spirit (“comforter, truth-bringer”); finally uniting those overarching facets of God’s self-revelation together “in Oneness, one endless Trinitarian God”.
The wide variety of descriptions employed by Clare also offer a welcome, thought-provoking antidote to the male and hierarchical images that remain dominant even in the most recent hymn writing. Brian Wren described these images as reflecting a “KINGAFAP” language (where KINGAFAP stands for: king, god, almighty, father, protector).
Clare Stainsby is a Methodist minister and former music teacher. A number of her hymns have been published in Singing the Faith, including a popular candle-lighting hymn, Light a candle in a darkened place (StF 174).