This morning, before the service begins, we will be singing # 1 of the Augment, ”We Come O Christ to You." This is a modern hymn written by Margaret Clarkson. This Canadian hymn writer was born in Melville, Saskatchewan in 1915 and now, in her old age, lives in a nursing home in Toronto. Ms. Clarkson is a lifelong Presbyterian. (Subsequent to the writing of this, Margaret Clarkson passed away, March 17, 2008--obituary.)
This is a lovely hymn of praise to Christ who is the source of our life (stanza 1), the Way (st. 2), the Truth (st. 3), the Life (st. 4), our Saviour and King (st. 5). She wrote it especially for young people (see stanza 5). With a brilliant economy of words, our Lord Jesus Christ is praised with many names and designations: Son of God, the Agent of creation, the Author of life, the One who cares for us, the Way, our Judge and Maker, the One who loves us, the Truth, Wisdom, the great I AM, the Life, the risen Lord, Christ, Saviour, King. Also, the many aspects of his work are described: He was instrumental in creation; with His blood He atoned for our sins; He rules over all and will Judge everyone.
The tune, Eastview, was written by James V. Lee, an officer in the British army during the Great War and a church organist.
This afternoon, we will be singing # 2, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," one of the best known and most joyous Easter tunes. You will notice that the tune is called "Easter Hymn."
Charles Wesley composed this hymn. Each stanza recalls an Easter theme: All of creation praises the risen Christ (stanza 1); death has been completely vanquished (st. 2); the redeeming work of Christ is complete (st. 3); we praise Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth (st. 4). The dancing "alleluia" at the end of each line adds a joyful exuberance to our praise.
An interesting additional note about Charles Wesley is that he wrote over 6,000 hymns.
As you can read in the foreword to the Hymnary Augment, our present Book of Praise is, surprisingly, a little thin on Easter hymns. Four have been added by way of the Augment. # 3, which we will be singing this morning, is an English version of a 1500 year old hymn celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has given the church something to sing about. Jesus lives! He died and was buried, but He arose. As He emerged from the dark grave, He freed us from the gloomy darkness of sin and death and brought us back to light and life. Alleluia!
The tune was written by the Lutheran school teacher, organist and hymn writer, Nicolaus Herman. Many of Herman's melodies show clear affinities with folk music. This particular tune has a very pleasant swing to it. We will be singing it before the service this morning.