Hymns on a theme from the life and work of James Smetham, Victorian artist and committed Methodist.
Andrew Brown's hymn We pray for healing and for health (StF website) is a reminder that while James Smetham’s own life was finally overcome by mental pain and a descent into silence, our hope is always that individuals and communities suffering mental stress or the effects of trauma will eventually experience some sense of healing. David Adam expresses our prayer succinctly in his hymn Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm (StF 624 - image below):
Calm me, Lord, as you calmed the storm;
still me, Lord, keep me from harm.
Let all the tumult within me cease;
enfold me, Lord, in your peace.
Colin Ferguson’s God of my faith, I offer you my doubt (StF 629) also touches on the impact of anxiety, though within a more focused reflection on the damage done to faith when life “seems far too dark for me”. Jan Berry, Andrew Pratt and others have explored an intentionally holistic approach to hymn writing in their publication Hymns of Hope and Hymns of Healing (Stainer & Bell). Jan talks about the thinking behind this exploration in an interview for StF+: More to say about healing.
The understanding of Jan and her colleagues is summed up in the Andrew Brown’s hymn. He, too, asserts that it is God's nature to "restore"; that God's dream for this world, and for us, is wholeness and connection – with God, with each other, and with our environment. It is fundamental to our Christian hope, therefore, that we "look to God" to "bring healing to all people here".
(Image left of a calm see and sunset by hymn writer and artist, Andrew Pratt)