Hymns, Psalms & Poems about Work
This is part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.
HYMNS, PSALMS & POEMS
These Hymns are part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.
It has been decided to omit hymn numbers since there are often several different editions of the major hymn books. In the case of well-known and/or easily accessible hymns we give just first lines, plus an indication of which of the main books include that particular hymn. It has been impossible to refer to all hymn books currently in use. If the book used at your church is not included below, it is suggested that you check the index of your book and make a note of the hymns in the following list that are included there. Your books may also contain other suitable hymns not shown in our list. As the list below clearly indicates, no one church's or denomination's books contain all the suitable material that is currently available. We can all increase our repertoire by pooling our local resources ecumenically.
A&M = Ancient & Modern (C of E)
BP&W = Baptist Praise & Worship
CHE = Celebration Hymnal for Everyhone (RC)
CP = Congregational Praise
NEH = New English Hymnal (C of E)
EP = English Praise - a supplement to the English Hymnal, 1975 edition.
HHT = 100 Hymns for Today (C of E)
H&P = Hymns & Psalms (Methodist)
HO&N = Hymns Old & New (RC)
HTC = Hymns for Today's Church
MEP = Mission England Praise
MHB = Methodist Hymn Book
MMT = More Hymns for Today
R&S = Rejoice & Sing (United Reformed)
BETTER KNOWN/READILY ACCESSIBLE HYMNS
- All people that on earth do dwell (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- All my hope on God is founded (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- All that I am, all that I do (CHE, HO&N)
- Almighty Father of all things that be (CP, H&P, R&S)
- Almighty Father, who for us thy Son didst give (A&M, CP, H&P, HHT, R&S)
- Angel voices ever singing (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&S, HTC, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- As we break the bread (R&S)
- Behold the servant of the Lord (H&P, MHB)
- Behold us, Lord, a little space (CP, H&P, MHB)
- Blest are you, Lord, God of all creation (CHE, HO&N)
- Christ, be the Lord of all our days (HTC)
- Christ for the world we sing (A&M, CP, H&P, MHB, R&S)
- Christ is the world's true light (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, NEH, R&S)
- Come, Lord Jesus, come (CHE, HO&N)
- Come to us, creative Spirit (H&P, HTC)
- Come, workers for the Lord (A&M, H&P, HHT)
- Crown him with many crowns (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Do not be afraid (CHE, HO&N) [suitable for an unemployment service]
- Do you know that the Lord walks on earth? (HO&N)
- Father and life-giver (CHE, HO&N)
- Father, hear the prayer we offer (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, NEH, R&S)
- Father, I place into your hands (CHE, HO&N) [suitable for an unemployment service]
- Father, in my life I see (HO&N)
- Father, Lord of all creation (A&M, BP&W, HHT, NEH)
- Father of glory, whose heavenly plan (BP&W)
- Father, whose almighty word (BPW)
- Fear not, for I have redeemed you (HO&N) [suitable for an unemployment service]
- Fill thou my life (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&S, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- For joys of service, thee we praise (CP, R&S)
- For ourselves no longer living (R&S)
- For the fruits of his creation (A&M, BP&W, CHE, EH, H&P, HTC, MEP, R&S)
- For the healing of the nations (A&M, BP&W, H&P, R&S)
- Forth in the peace of Christ we go (A&M, BP&W, CHE, HO&N, NEH, R&S)
- Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, HTC, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Gifts of bread and wine (HO&N)
- Give me peace, O Lord, I pray (CHE, HO&N)
- Give me the faith which can remove (CP, H&P, MHB)
- God in his love for us lent us this planet (H&P, R&S)
- God is working his purpose out (A&M, CHE, CP, H&P, HTC, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- God of concrete, God of steel (A&M, H&S, HHT)
- God of love and truth and beauty (A&M, EP, H&P, HHT)
- God our maker, mighty Father (CHE)
- God who spoke in the beginning (A&M)
- God whose farm is all creation (A&M, BP&W, H&P, HTC, R&S)
- Good is our God who made this place (A&M, HHT)
- Help us accept each other (R&S)
- I give my hands to do your work (HO&N)
- In bread we bring you, Lord, our bodies' labour (CHE)
- Jesus calls us: o'er the tumult (A&M, CP, H&P, MEP, MHB, NEH)
- Jesus' hands were kind hands (H&P, R&S)
- Jesus shall reign where'er the sun (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&S, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Jubilate everybody (BP&W, MEP, R&S)
- Judge eternal, throned in splendour (BP&W, CP, H&P, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- King of glory, King of peace (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Kneels at the feet of his friends (BP&W, R&S)
- Let all the world in every corner sing (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, HTC, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Let us talents and tongues employ (A&M, HTC, R&S)
- Lord, bring the day to pass (H&P, R&S)
- Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided (BP&W, MEP, R&S)
- Lord God, in whom all worlds (H&P)
- Lord God, by whom all change is wrought (CP, H&P, MHB, R&S)
- Lord of all good, our gifts we bring to thee (A&M, H&P, R&S)
- Lord of all hopefulness (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, NEH, R&S)
- Lord of all loving (CHE)
- Lord of all power I give you my will (A&M, HTC)
- Lord in everything I do (CHE)
- Lord, to you we bring our treasure (A&M, MHT)
- Lord, your kingdom bring triumphant (BP&W)
- My God accept my heart this day (CHE)
- New every morning is the love (A&M, CP, H&P, MEP, NEH, R&S)
- Not what these hands have done (MHB)
- Now join we to praise the creator (A&M, BP&W, H&P, MHT, R&S)
- Now let us from this table rise (A&M, BP&W, H&P, R&S)
- Now thank we all our God (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Now the Mass is ended, Lord (HO&N)
- O Christ, the master carpenter (HTC)
- O Jesus I have promised (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, HTC, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- O Lord of every shining constellation (A&M, BP&W, HHT)
- O worship the king (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, HTC, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Out of our failure to create, a world of love and care (R&S)
- Praise and thanksgiving (A&M, H&P, HHT, R&S)
- Praise God for the harvest of farm and of field (H&P)
- Praise my soul the king of heaven (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore him (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, HO&N, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the king of creation (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, HTC, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Reap me the earth as a harvest to God (CHE)
- Saint Joseph, God has chosen you (CHE, HO&N)
- Seek ye first the Kingdom of God (BP&W, CHE, H&P, HO&N, MEP, R&S)
- Son of God, eternal Saviour (A&M, BP&W, CP, NEH, R&S)
- Strengthen for service, Lord (A&M, BP&W, CP, H&P, HTC, NEH, R&S)
- Take my hands and make them as your own (CHE, HO&N)
- Take my life and let it be (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, HO&N, HTC, MEP, MHB, R&S)
- Teach me my God and king (A&M, CP, EH, H&P, MHB, R&S)
- Tell out my soul (A&M, BP&W, H&P, HO&N, NEH, R&S)
- The Church of Christ in every age (BP&W, H&P, R&S)
- The law of Christ alone can make us free (BP&W, H&P)
- The works of the Lord are created in wisdom (HTC)
- There's a spirit in the air (A&M, BP&W, H&P, MHT, R&S)
- Thou whose almighty word (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- Through all the changing scenes of life (A&M, BP&W, CHE, CP, H&P, MEP, MHB, NEH, R&S)
- 'Till the end of my days, O Lord (HO&N)
- Upon thy table, Lord, we place (A&M, CHE, H&P, HHT, HO&N)
- Walk with me, oh my Lord (CHE) [suitable for an unemployment service]
- We find thee, Lord, in others' needs (A&M, HHT)
- We give thee but thine own (MHB, CP, R&S)
- We turn to you, O God of every nation (A&M, BP&W, H&P, MHT, R&S)
- What does the Lord require (A&M, H&P, HHT)
- When the Church of Christ shuts its outer door (BP&W)
- With open hands we come before you (CHE)
- Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (BP&W Elsewhere =O worship...)
The following hymns are not readily accessible to most Christians, as they are not included in standard hymnals. Being possibly otherwise unobtainable (e.g. because they are found in rarer books or in books that are now out of print), we give the texts in full. Information about sources, dates, and copyright holders is provided where known. In some instances a suitable tune has been suggested. The hymns are in alphabetical order.
ALL MY HOPE IS FIRMLY GROUNDED
All my hope is firmly grounded
In the great and living Lord;
Who, whenever I most need him,
Never fails to keep his word.
Him I must
God the ever good and just.
Tell me, who can trust our nature,
Human, weak, and insecure:
Which of all the airy castles
Can the hurricane endure?
Built on sand,
Nought can stand,
By our earthly wisdom planned.
But in every time and season,
Out of love's abundant store,
God sustains his whole creation,
Found of life for evermore.
We who share
Earth and air
Count on his unfailing care.
Thank, O thank, our great Creator,
Through his only Son this day;
He alone, the Heavenly Potter,
Made us out of earth and clay.
Quick to heed,
Strong in deed,
He shall all his people feed.
(Fred Pratt Green (1903- ). Suggested tune: Meine Hoffnung)
ALL WHO LOVE AND SERVE YOUR CITY
All who love and serve your city,
All who bear its daily stress,
All who cry for peace and justice,
All who curse and all who bless.
In your day of loss and sorrow,
In your day of helpless strife,
Honour, peace and love retreating,
Seek the Lord, who is your life.
In your day of wealth and plenty,
Wasted work and wasted play,
Call to mind the word of Jesus,
'Work ye yet while it is day'.
For all days are days of judgement,
And the Lord is waiting still,
Drawing near to those who spurn him,
Offering peace from Calvary's hill.
Risen Lord, shall yet the city
Be the city of despair?
Come today, our Judge, our Glory,
Be its name, 'The Lord is there!'.
(Eric Routley c.1969 Galliard)
AS WE BREAK THE BREAD
As we break the bread
And taste the life of wine,
We bring to mind our Lord
Man of all time.
Grain is sown to die:
It rises from the dead,
Becomes through human toil
Our common bread.
Pass from hand to hand
The living love of Christ!
Machine and man provide
Bread for this feast.
Jesus binds in one
Our daily life and work:
He is of humankind
Symbol and mark.
Having shared the bread
That dies to rise again,
We rise to serve the world,
Scattered as grain.
(Fred Kaan c.1968 Galliard)
BRING TO GOD YOUR GIFTS FOR HARVEST
Bring to God your gifts for harvest,
Celebrate God's love with praise.
God has filled the earth with good things
in their seasons, year by year:
Field and forest, mine and ocean
yield their crops for all to share,
given for human life's enrichment,
tokens of our Maker's care.
Bring to God your gifts for harvest,
Celebrate God's love with praise.
Gifts of mind and hand and talent
echo God's creative power.
Human hands tend God's creation;
body, mind and soul are fed.
Work and rest and worship offer -
at God's feet may all be laid.
Bring to God your gifts for harvest
- every day's activity!
Worship God in home and office,
boardroom, classroom, factory.
Join the song of adoration,
Join the symphony of praise.
Bring to God your gifts of harvest,
Bring the fruits of all your days.
(Heather Pencavel, 1995. Suggested tune: Beethoven's Ode to Joy)
GOD WHO SPOKE IN THE BEGINNING
God who spoke in the beginning,
Forming rock and shaping spar,
Set all life and growth in motion,
Earthly world and distant star;
He who calls the earth to order
Is the ground of what we are.
God who spoke through men and nations,
Through events long past and gone
Showing still today his purpose,
Speaks supremely through his Son;
He who calls the earth to order
Gives his word and it is done.
God whose speech becomes incarnate
- Christ is servant, Christ is Lord! -
Calls us to a life of service,
Heart and will to action stirred;
He who uses man's obedience
Has the first and final word.
(Fred Kaan c.1969 Galliard)
INSPIRED BY LOVE AND ANGER
Inspired by love and anger, disturbed by need and pain,
Informed of God's own bias, we ask him once again:
"How long must some folk suffer? How long can few folk mind?
How long dare vain self-interest turn prayer and pity blind?"
From those forever victims of heartless human greed,
Their cruel plight composes a litany of need:
"Where are the fruits of justice? Where are the signs of peace?
When is the day when prisoners and dreams find their release?"
From those forever shackled to what their wealth can buy,
The fear of lost advantage provoke the bitter cry:
"Don't query our position! Don't criticise our wealth!
Don't mention those exploited by politics and stealth!"
To God, who through the prophets proclaimed a different age,
We offer earth's indifference, its agony and rage:
"When will the wronged by righted? When will the kingdom come?
When will the world be generous to all instead of some?"
God asks, "Who will go for me? Who will extend my reach?
And who, when few will listen, will prophesy and preach?
And who, when few bid welcome, will offer all they know?
And who, when few dare follow, will walk the road I show?"
Amused in someone's kitchen, asleep in someone's boat,
Attuned to what the ancients exposed, proclaimed and wrote,
A saviour without safety, a tradesman without tools
Has come to tip the balance with fishermen and fools.
(Tune: Sally Gardens (Irish trad.) c. Wild Goose Publications, c/o The Iona Community)
LORD, LOOK UPON OUR WORKING DAYS
Lord, look upon our working days,
Busied in factory, office, store;
May wordless work thy name adore,
The common round spell out thy praise?
Bent to the lot our crafts assign,
Swayed by deep tides of need and fear,
In loyalties torn the truth unclear,
How may we build to thy design?
Thou are the workman, Lord, not we:
All worlds were made at thy command,
Christ, their sustainer, bared his hand,
Rescued them from futility.
Our part to do what he'll commit,
Who strides the world, and calls us all
Partners in pain and carnival,
To grasp the hope he won for it.
Cover our faults with pardon full,
Shield those who suffer when we shirk:
Take what is worthy in our work,
Give it its portion in thy rule.
(Ian M Fraser c.1969 Galliard)
LORD OF OUR CITY
Lord of our city we bring you its pain,
The muggings, the dole queues, the lift's bust again,
The fear of each stranger and no-where to play,
The waiting for buses at the start of each day.
Lord of our homeless we bring you their cry
The waiting on promises - pie in the sky,
The red tape and questions and sent on their way
The sense of frustration at the noon of the day.
Lord of all races, all colours of skin,
Please make us fight racism, help us begin
To see how our prejudice colours the way
We treat friends and neighbours at the end of the day.
Lord of our whole lives, we bring them to you.
We're powerless, defeated, 'til you make us new.
Then powered by your Spirit, we go on once more
With news of your wholeness, good news to the poor.
(Words: Jane Galbraith Tune: Slane c. Jane Galbraith)
PRAISE WITH JOY THE WORLD'S CREATOR
Praise with joy the world's creator,
God of justice, love and peace,
Source and end of human knowledge,
Force of goodness without cease.
Celebrate the Maker's glory,
Power to rescue and release.
Praise the Son who feeds the hungry,
Frees the captive, finds the lost,
Heals the sick, upsets religion,
Fearless both of fate and cost.
Celebrate Christ's constant presence -
Friend and Stranger, Guest and Host.
Praise the Spirit sent among us
Liberating truth from pride,
Forging bonds where race or gender,
Age or nation dare divide.
Celebrate the Spirit's treasure -
Foolishness none dare deride.
Praise the Maker, Son and Spirit,
One God in Community,
Calling us to leave behind
Faith's ghettos and obscurity.
Thus the world shall yet believe
When shown Christ's vibrant unity.
(Tune: Praise my soul the king of heaven. J Goss c. 1986 Wild Goose Publications)
THE EARTH, THE SKY, THE OCEANS
The earth, the sky, the oceans
And all that they contain;
The world with all its secrets,
It is the Lord's domain.
To rule his great creation
God gives to humankind
The gifts of strength and courage
And an inventive mind.
For quest and exploration,
Our God has given the key
To free the hidden forces
And wealth of land and sea.
To new advance in science,
Research to conquer pain,
To growth in skill and knowledge
We are by God ordained.
To us from birth is given
Our stewardship and brief;
To search for truth and purpose,
To find the heart of life.
God calls us to adventure
With work of hand and brain,
To share with all his people
The profits we may gain.
We pledge ourselves to service,
That with the help of Christ
We may be able stewards
Of all that does exist.
Whate'er we may discover
On earth, in outer space,
God grant that we may use it
To bless the human race.
(Fred Kaan c.1968 Galliard. Tune: Wolvercote)
THE HARVEST OF THE CITY
The harvest of the city
We lift to you today
Who calls us all to celebrate,
To labour and to play.
You only are the maker
In all we make and do
You share with us the labour,
You share the music too
Holy is the maker
Who lives in all we do,
And holy is the liberty
To be a maker too.
We share with you the river,
We share with you the road,
The driving of the lorry and
The lifting of the load.
We share with you the timber,
We share with you the steel,
The lifting of the hammer,
The turning of the wheel.
Holy is the maker...
In hospital and harbour
We meet you night and day.
We share with you the writing and
The acting of a play.
We find you in the teaching
And in the learning too.
In all that we are making
You are the maker too.
Holy is the maker...
The harvest of the city
We bring to you today,
And by the liberty you give
We celebrate and play.
You only are the maker,
You live in all we do,
We share with you the labour,
We share the music too.
Holy is the maker...
(Sydney Carter c. Stainer & Bell)
WE LAY OUR BROKEN WORLD
We lay our broken world
In sorrow at your feet,
Haunted by hunger, war and fear,
Oppressed by power and hate.
Where human life seems less
That profit, might and pride,
Though to unite us all in you
You lived and loved and died.
We bring our broken towns,
Our neighbours hurt and bruised;
You show us how old pain and wounds
For new life can be used.
We bring our broken hopes
For lives of dignity;
Workless and overworked you love
And call us to be free.
We bring our broken loves,
Friends parted, families torn;
Then in your life and death we see
That love must be reborn.
We bring our broken selves,
Confused and closed and tired;
Then through your gift of healing grace
New purpose is inspired.
O Spirit, on us breathe,
With life and strength anew;
Find in us love, and hope and trust,
And lift us up to you.
(Tune: Havergal Words: Anna Briggs c. Anna Briggs)
WHEN GOD ALMIGHTY CAME TO BE ONE OF US
(Suitable for use at Christmas)
When God Almighty came to be one of us,
Masking the glory of his golden train,
Dozens of plain things kindled by accident,
And they will never be the same again.
Sing all you midwives, dance all the carpenters,
Sing all the publicans and shepherds too,
God in his mercy uses the commonplace
God on his birthday had a need of you.
Splendour of Rome and Local Authority,
Working on policy with furrowed head,
Joined to locate Messiah's nativity,
Just where the prophets had already said.
Sing all you tax-men, dance the Commissioners,
Sing civil servants and policemen too,
God to his purpose uses the governments,
God on his birthday had a need of you.
Wise men, they called them, earnest astrologers,
Watching for meaning in the moving stars,
Science or fancy, learned or laughable,
Theirs was a vision that was brought to pass.
Sing all you wise men, dance all the scientists,
Whether your theories are false or true,
God uses knowledge, God uses ignorance,
God on his birthday had a need of you.
Sing, all creation, made for his purposes,
Called by his providence to live and move:
None is unwanted, none insignificant,
Love needs a universe of folk to love,
Old men and maidens, young men and children,
Black ones and coloured ones and white ones too,
God on his birthday, and to eternity,
Took upon himself the need of you.
(Michael Hewlett c. 1969 Galliard)
WORKER GOD WHO PLANNED CREATION
(suitable for an unemployment service)
Worker God, who planned creation -
complex splendour held in one:
spoke out threads of light and matter
weaving what your word has spun.
Then, with proper satisfaction,
rested when the work was done.
Who are we to spoil the pattern,
make redundant hands and minds,
tarnish pleasure in achievement
which your pleasure undersigned,
crushing lives, and wasting talent,
Many see the sudden ending
of their deeply cherished plans
through the failure of a system
which no longer meets demands,
and the fruit of years of effort
slips away from helpless hands.
Helplessness fuels bitter anger -
friends and loved ones bear the cost.
Voices raised create a Babel,
and by this disintegration,
whole communities are lost.
Worker God within creation
weaving what our hands have spun,
give to us consistent strength
to speak your word and see it done.
So though humble human triumphs
may your victory be won.
(Janet Wootton (1952- ). Suggested tune: Oriel or Rhuddlan)
These Psalms are part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.
1. Biblical Psalms
Human beings have a special destiny and responsibility as masters of creation.
The honest person is acceptable to God and obeys the divine laws.
God's creation bears witness to God's design of and plan for the world.
In times of trouble God is our strength and support.
God has ordered the world and given human beings enough to supply their needs.
God has blessed humankind.
God sees how human beings have misused his creation.
Thanksgiving is due to God for his creation and salvation.
Thanksgiving to God for creation.
What God has done is cause for rejoicing.
The vastness of God's creation and the glory of his works.
PSALM 107: 23-32
God is active in his creation.
PSALM 8 (an alternative translation)
O Lord our God: the whole earth glorifies your name!
Your praise stretches to the heavens on the lips of
infants and children.
You tower over your enemies,
and defeat all who oppose you.
When I look at the night sky, the moon and the stars you created,
how insignificant humans seem, and yet you cherish them.
You share your glory with men and women,
as it they were gods beside you.
You have made them masters of creation:
everything is subject to their authority,
Cattle and sheep, and every living creature,
soaring birds, sea fish and the teeming life of the oceans.
O Lord, our God: the whole earth glorifies your name.
These Modern Psalms and Poems are part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.
The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush;
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness
Which restore my serenity.
He leads me in the way of efficiency,
Through calmness of mind: and his guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day
I will not fret, for his presence is here.
His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
In the midst of activity.
By anointing my mind with the oils of tranquility,
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
Shall be the fruits of my hours,
For I will walk in the pace of the Lord.
Claimant: Look, all I want is some money so I can buy the kids some food for the week-end.
Officer: I'm sorry, I can't authorise it. There's some problem with your file.
SAVE ME O GOD!
FOR THE WATERS HAVE COME UP TO MY NECK.
Claimant: I haven't got any money. I need some money so I can feed the kids.
Officer: Are you claiming under Regulation 4(1) of the supplementary benefits requirements regulations 1983, No 1399; or for an Urgent Needs Payment under Regulation 21, (Urgent Cases) regulations, No 1529?
I SINK IN THE DEEP MIRE
WHERE THERE IS NO FOOTHOLD;
Claimant: I don't bloody know!
Officer: You do know, though, that if you make a false claim you render yourself liable for prosecution, don't you?
I HAVE COME INTO DEEP WATERS,
AND THE FLOOD SWEEPS OVER ME.
Claimant: Look, I don't care what you call it. I haven't eaten for two days. I just want something so that I can feed the kids.
I AM WEARY WITH MY CRYING;
MY THROAT IS PARCHED.
Officer: Just wait here one moment, I'll go and fetch the supervisor.
MY EYES GROW DIM WITH WAITING FOR MY GOD.
Claimant: I've been here five hours already!
Supervisor: Ah, Mr Scrounger, we were wondering when you'd come in.
MORE IN NUMBER THAN THE HAIRS OF MY HEAD
ARE THOSE WHO HATE ME WITHOUT CAUSE;
Claimant: I was just saying to the other bloke that all I want is some money to feed the kids for the weekend.
Supervisor: Your benefit has been stopped, Mr Scrounger. We've reason to believe you've been working while claiming.
MIGHTY ARE THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY ME;
THOSE WHO ATTACK ME WITH LIES.
Claimant: That's a bloody lie!
Supervisor: I'm sorry, your benefit has been suspended until the matter can be properly investigated. We may find that you owe us some money!
WHAT I DID NOT STEAL MUST I NOW RESTORE?
Claimant: It's a lie, it's a bloody lie!
Supervisor: Mr Scrounger, acting on an anonymous phone call, we had our fraud people watch your movements. Last Monday morning you looked after a neighbour's children. We have reason to believe you were paid cash in hand.
O GOD, THOU KNOWEST MY FOLLY;
THE WRONGS I HAVE DONE ARE NOT HIDDEN FROM THEE.
Claimant: I can't believe this. You just can't be real!
Supervisor: Good day, Mr Scrounger. We will be writing to you about the matter in due time. Now, if you wouldn't mind leaving, I don't think there's anything else to keep you here...
Claimant: But I haven't got any money! What are the kids going to eat?
BUT I AM AFFLICTED AND IN PAIN;
LET THY SALVATION, O GOD, SET ME ON HIGH!
Claimant: What about the kids?
I WILL PRAISE THE NAME OF GOD WITH A SONG;
I WILL MAGNIFY HIM WITH THANKSGIVING.
Government spokesman: The Department of Social Security administers the income support system. This is a "safety net" scheme to ensure that no-one in our society ever need go hungry.
THIS WILL PLEASE THE LORD MORE THAN AN OX,
OR A BULL WITH HORNS AND HOOFS.
Spokesman: But sadly there always will be fraud, and we have a duty to our taxpayers to ensure the minimum of abuse of the system.
LET THE OPPRESSED SEE IT AND BE GLAD;
YOU WHO SEEK GOD, LET YOUR HEARTS REVIVE.
Spokesman: Of course, the country would be a lot better off if real wages were lower; people are just pricing themselves out of the market.
FOR THE LORD HEARS THE NEEDY,
AND DOES NOT DESPISE HIS OWN THAT ARE IN BONDS.
Spokesman: And also, as you know, part of the problem is that benefits are too high; it's often not worth people's while to get a job.
LET HEAVEN AND EARTH PRAISE HIM,
THE SEA AND EVERYTHING THAT MOVES THEREIN.
Spokesman: You know, we really are a caring Government.
FOR GOD WILL SAVE ZION AND REBUILD THE CITIES OF JUDAH;
AND HIS SERVANTS SHALL DWELL THERE AND POSSESS IT;
THE CHILDREN OF HIS SERVANTS WILL INHERIT IT,
AND THOSE WHO LOVE HIS NAME SHALL DWELL IN IT.
Claimant: I just want some money to feed the children over the weekend.
Officer: It's alright, I've checked.Your giro's in the post.
(Christians' Unemployment Group 'An Unemployment Worship Book' [c.] )
Sunday by Sunday
the church gathers
Women and men meet
to withdraw from the world?
or to bring the world
their living with them?
Women and men
living with tensions
struggling with dilemmas
challenged by change
oppressed by changes that are too rapid.
Is this the place
is it together
that they can affirm
this is where life
is given meaning?
Or do they sing uneasily
because here is the place
where no meaning is given
to the context and the content
of their daily lives?
Can I bring my anger with me
Or must it be quelled before I enter?
Can I bring my confusion
Or should I simply pretend there is none?
What do I do with my contradictions
of loving my family
yet rarely seeing them?
or with the pressure to raise
without the tempering of justice
What do I do with the painful knowledge
of failing to touch with understanding
the urgent needs
of my fellow human beings?
Soothing will not ease my burdens.
Where do I find the courage
to confront my problems? ...
let there be light
to remind us that darkness has been conquered
and love has filled the universe
in the face of Jesus Christ.
Let there be sky
to draw our gaze in fear and wonder
displaying in cloud and thunder, rainbow and rain
our dependence upon your overarching care.
Let there be sun, moon and stars
to give us an appetite for eternity
and to warn us of the limits of our knowledge and pride.
Let there be earth
for us to respect and love
as we seek to conserve its energy and resources
for children yet to come.
Let there be fish and animals
to be partners with us on the earth
sharing our land, sea and air.
Let there be people
who as your creatures
have not lost their sense of dependence
and who are creators and responsible protectors of life.
Let there be rest
offering us the opportunity
for reflection and worship, recreation and refreshment
with time to remember
that a new creation has been forgivingly provided
in Jesus Christ.
(URC 1986 Prayer Handbook [c.] )
Go tell the earth to shake
And tell the thunder
To wake the sky
And tear the clouds apart.
Tell my people to come out
Where the old world is gone,
For a new world is born,
And all my people
Shall be one.
So tell the earth to shake.
With marching feet
Of messengers of peace,
Proclaim my law of love
To every nation,
For the old wrongs are over,
The old days are done;
A new world is rising
Where my people shall be one.
For the old world is ended,
The old sky is torn
Apart. A new day is born:
They hate no more,
They do not go to war any more.
My people shall be one.
The old wrongs are over,
The old ways are done;
There shall be no more hate
And no oppression.
The old wrongs are gone,
My people shall be one.
(Thomas Merton, based on Isaiah 52)
1. The flavour has gone out of our world:
our childlike wonder has flown away.
2. God, it's your presence we miss:
your aren't at the centre of our concerns.
3. The secular realm is all we can sense:
our experience limited by material things.
4. Help us to relish true knowledge of you:
so we can become ourselves again.
5. Our recognition of you has been stunted:
we need salt to bring out the taste afresh.
6. "You are salt to the world" you said:
so that is our task and vocation -
7. To bring back the taste of you to our world:
to keep people consciously open to you.