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Music Notes from Denise, June 22, 2024

This Sunday we learn about Mark’s description of the disciples weathering a storm while in a boat as Jesus calmly slept. When awoken, Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea,“Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” Mark 4:41. We will be challenged to answer Jesus’ question as we face difficulties and fearful situations in our own lives.


Our Prelude is titled In Cloud and Sea and was written by Richard Elliott, one of the organists at Salt Lake City’s Mormon temple. He wrote it in tribute to his great-grandfather, the Rev. Daniel Edward Moylan, who lost his hearing as a young child. Later as a young pastor, he founded the first church for the deaf in Baltimore, Maryland—Christ Methodist Episcopal Church—which is still in existence. He was widely known for his expressive signing of hymns and two of his favorites, Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me and Rock of Ages are the basis for this prelude’s composition. (2017, Birnamwood Pub, MorningStar Music Pub.)


The Processional hymn will be O God, our help in ages past, written by Isaac Watts in 1719. No matter our situation, no matter our struggles and fears, no matter doubts, we are told to have courage, for the Lord is our God. And as Isaac Watts writes so powerfully in this hymn, our God is everlasting, and will be our help through all of our years. The first verse gives us every assurance we need: God is our help, our hope, and our home. This does not blithely dismiss our fears and troubles. They are, and always will be, very real. But it does assure us that even if we cannot feel the immediate comfort, or even when all we can do is lament, we have a God that withstands the storms of the life and the tests of time, and who protects us and hears our cries. (


Our Sequence hymn retraces one of the hymns from the prelude, Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me written by Rev. Edward Hopper in 1871. Hopper pastored several Presbyterian churches, the last one being the Church of Sea and Land, NYC, a church for sailors. When asked to compose a hymn for the Seamen’s Friend’s Society anniversary, he produced this hymn and John Edgar Gould saw it and wrote the tune. (John Perry; Although this song was composed for seamen and imitated the tossing of a boat by the ocean waves, its rhythm also accents the motion of a mother rocking her child, and reinforces its place as a hymn of spiritual trust. (Stories of the Christian Hymns by Helen Salem Rizk, 1986 Abingdon Press)


The Offertory will be one of Charles Wesley’s meaningful hymns, Jesus, Lover of My Soul. Charles Wesley was converted in 1738, and wrote this hymn shortly thereafter; it was published under the title “In Temptation” in 1740 by the Wesley brothers in Hymns and Sacred Poems. The hymn has as its theme the sufficiency of Christ to give comfort, power, and grace in any circumstance. It is a plea that Jesus will provide sanctuary to the tempted, because there is no other refuge. Christ is declared to be the sole desire of the Christian, who is undeserving, while Christ's grace is declared sufficient to cleanse the Christian from all sins. Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to thy bosom fly, while the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high; Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past; safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last! There are two tunes that are commonly associated with this text. Ours is the Welsh tune Aberystwyth by Joseph Parry, written in 1876 and named after the coastal town he was living in at the time. (


Our final hymn will be a favorite, Amazing Grace, in which we acknowledge our relationship with our God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; and our need to find and become a part in this Church family.


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