This fragile, passing beauty,
this autumn, red and gold,
a season's recollection:
love never will grow cold.
The seasons change and fracture,
the leaves of green turn brown,
as life seems tinged with sadness,
as petals flutter down.
This time of our remembrance
that reaches back to pain,
the chill of recollection
can open wounds again;
But this we must remember
that human war and hate
are matters of our choosing
and not some random fate.
God let this time of grieving,
of memory and regret,
in case we just forget.
Fill human hearts with courage,
frame human words with grace,
that love might flow among us,
make Earth a sacred place.
Words: Andrew Pratt © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Suggested tunes: Written with a lovely Norwegian folk melody in mind: “Bred dina vida vingar”. This is widely available online and in Andrew Pratt’s own collection, Reclaiming Praise: hymns from a spiritual journey No.142. Arrangements of the tune can be heard at https://youtu.be/V6dDt3OJf6Q (violin) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6dDt3OJf6Q&feature=youtu.be (organ)
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Ideas for use
With its reference to “human war and hate” and adoption of the word “reparation” (a term widely used in the negotiations that followed the World War 1 armistice), Andrew’s hymn is a helpful contribution to materials used for Remembrance Sunday each November.
For some churches, this day is part of a wider “season of Remembrance” that also includes Transgender Remembrance Day (20 November). With its broader focus that concludes with a prayer for Earth to become “a sacred place”, this hymn may be find a place in services other than for Remembrance Sunday itself.
Amongst those hymns on the theme of Remembrance published here on Singing the Faith Plus, Methodist hymn writer Andrew Pratt has contributed a number of texts, including Once crimson poppies bloomed and A century passes, memories will fade.
Those texts draw more closely on imagery of the trench warfare we associate with the Great War. This fragile, passing beauty is a little different, gently guiding the singer into a place of thoughtful remembrance through lines that speak of autumnal change. The melancholy of the season merges with the recollection of war so that the falling leaves that close verse 1 evoke, perhaps, a cascade of falling poppies.
The following verses continue both to draw out our broader understanding of a love that “never will grow cold” while, at the same time, suggesting something more personal: “the chill of recollection” that “can open wounds again”. International reparations and personal grief sit side by side.