“From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
be thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
thy true religion in our hearts increase;
thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.”
The overwhelming nature of our service on Sunday, however, is one of inspiration and celebration of our cathedral and its ministries. The choir anthem ties in wonderfully with the Gospel reading. The theme of the joy of finding God, of seeking salvation no matter the cost, is expressed in our anthem, I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew, by J. Harold Moyer (1927-2012). The lyrics are by an anonymous author and included in the Pilgrim Hymnal, (1904). The tune, by Moyer, evokes the spirit of shape-note tunes and imparts a distinctly American sound. I was particularly drawn to this piece because of the text. To me, it bears similarities to some poems of John Donne (1572-1631). Please find the text for Sunday’s anthem below.
“I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea.
'Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
as thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
always thou lovedst me.”
So, we have much to celebrate and remember this week at Christ Church. From the excitement of “kicking off” a new program year to the sadness that comes with the memory of September 11, 2001, we will gather to worship together in liturgy and music offering our best to God. Our songs of praise rising in this historic space is a testament to the enduring power of faith, hope, and love. These things endure above all else.