Vocations Sunday hymns

It’s about to be Vocations Sunday (in the C of E, that is).  If you want a new-ish hymn for your service, how about one of these?  They’re all free to use – just help yourself (if you could attribute them to (c) Ally Barrett that would be great, but there’s nothing to pay!:-)

This first one is about Vocation, ministry and mission, entitled
Hope of our calling

Tune: Woodlands
(it’s also in the latest version of Hymns Ancient and Modern)

Hope of our calling: hope through courage won;
By those who dared to share all Christ had done.
Saints of today, Christ’s banner now unfurled,
We bring his gospel to a waiting world.

Hope of our calling: hope with strength empowered,
Inspired by all that we have seen and heard;
This call is ours, for we are chosen too,
To live for God in all we say and do.

Hope of our calling: hope with grace outpoured,
From death’s despair the gift of life restored;
Our call to serve, to wash each others’ feet,
To bring Christ’s healing touch to all we meet.

Hope of our calling: hope by faith made bold;
To sow God’s righteousness throughout the world;
Bring peace from conflict, fruitfulness from weeds,
The kingdom’s harvest from a mustard seed.

Hope of our calling: Spirit-filled, unbound,
Old joys remembered and new purpose found,
Our call refreshed by sacrament and word,
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

This next one was written for the service in York Minster on 17th May 2014, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of women priests in the Church of England – anyone is welcome to use it, though. 
The tune is Londonderry Air.

Glory to God, the mother of creation,
in love you brought the universe to birth,
then gave your life to purchase the salvation
of all the sons and daughters of the earth.
Glory to you, for love that’s shown through history:
the warp and weft that patterns time and space.
By grace you’re known, yet known to be a mystery,
and we can touch eternity in your embrace.

Glory to you for calling us to service,
shepherds and stewards, messengers and priests,
we give ourselves in gratitude and gladness
as guests and hosts at your thanksgiving feast.
Our hearts exult in loving affirmation,
We sing with joy, your greatness we proclaim.
Your praise resounds in every generation,
Our souls with Mary magnify your holy name.

We are united, in Christ’s body dwelling,
one in the Spirit: wind and fire and dove;
one in the grace and hope of every calling,
to lift the ways of earth to heav’n above.
Through all our lives your power is ever flowing,
To show your work of love is underway;
Stir up your gift in us, your grace bestowing,
so we may speak and live your Word afresh today.

Finally, this hymn is based on the Ely Diocese Vision Statement
The tune is Guiting Power (Christ Triumphant, ever reigning).
It’s quite long, so would work as a processional/recessional/offertory

Gracious God, your love has found us,
bound us, set us free.
Take our lives, transform us into
all that we can be.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us to be Christ-revealing,
radiant with your light;
generous as a hilltop city,
visible and bright.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

 Call us all to live the kingdom,
active here and now;
Life affirming, world-renewing.
Church above, below.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us all in love discerning,
strong in word and deed;
sent, commissioned, gladly serving
all who are in need.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us as your loved disciples:
learning, growing, fed;
Send us out, as new apostles,
Leading as we’re led.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us deeply, touch our souls through
worship, prayer and word,
teach our minds to feel in echo
myst’ries yet unheard.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.

Call us, as you called creation
when the world began,
Guide our hearts’ imagination
to your loving plan.
Call us, one and all, together,
now and evermore, we pray.


Doodles for Lady Day

Lady DayLady Day 3

New hymn for godparent Sunday

Godparent Sunday falls on 1st May 2016 – it’s the first time that the Church of England has set aside a particular day for godparents, so it deserves a hymn all of its own. tune: Slane aka Lord of all hopefulness

Thank you, O Lord, for the gift of this day:
a time to count blessings, to think and to pray,
support us, inspire us, and call us anew,
help us to be faithful in following you.

Bless us in keeping our promise to care,
our loving commitment to always be there,
we’ll smile at each moment of joy and success,
and when life is bitter, our love is no less.

Bless us with patience, with care and with time
to listen, to challenge, to open our mind,
exploring life’s questions in wonder and awe,
and sharing the wisdom that loves to learn more.

Guide us, O Lord, as we walk on life’s way,
Discov’ring together fresh blessings each day,
O Lord of our journey, we ask you to show
the paths we might follow, the ways we may go.


Easter Hymns

Here are the three Easter hymns that I have written, conveniently copied into one post so you can find them easily.

Easter Morning hymn
The tune is Praise my soul / Lauda anima.

Early, while the world was sleeping,
to the garden Mary came;
lost in lonely grief, still weeping
till in love you spoke her name.
Alleluia, alleluia
Nothing now can be the same.

See, the sunlight, slowly dawning
overwhelms the shades of night,
welcoming this glorious morning,
rising with the Light of Light.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Death and darkness put to flight.

Trusted as the first apostle,
Mary swiftly made her way;
bearing this, the Easter gospel
to a world in disarray.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Good news for the earth today.

Risen Jesus, come and greet us:
Speak our name, we are your own;
In your generous love you meet us:
in our lives that love is shown.
Alleluia, alleluia,
Resurrection life made known.


Eastertide hymn
This one is based on the various encounters that the disciples had with the risen Jesus. It is designed to mirror the Epiphany hymn, ‘Songs of thankfulness and praise’, attempting to capture the lectionary stories of the season, so you’d sing it to whatever tune you use for that.  

Life comes to an upper room,
breaking through the fear and gloom;
walls and door-locks are no bar:
Jesus meets us where we are.
Life dispels the doubt of grief
bringing hope and new belief;
touching scars – these signs of pain
bring us back to life again.

Life comes to a broken heart,
bowed by sorrow, torn apart;
in the darkness of our tears
Jesus speaks to calm our fears.
On our journey life comes home,
in this fellowship made known;
with Christ’s body we are fed:
life revealed in broken bread.

Life comes to a sunlit shore,
sharing food with friends once more;
Fresh new callings banish guilt,
hope and faith and love rebuilt.
Jesus’ vict’ry over death
brings new life with every breath,
to the world it’s freely giv’n,
reconciling earth with heav’n.


A song of Moses and Miriam
A metrical version of the canticle usually used at the Easter Vigil
Tune: Kingsfold (the second part of the tune should be used for the doxology)

O sing aloud to God our strength
whose glory conquers all,
His mighty power has raised us up~
While horse and rider fall.
We sing in worship, for to God
All praise and thanks belong,
Our voices raise the melody
Of our salvation’s song.

This is our God, whom we exalt
Until the world shall end;
The Lord who saved our fathers will
To us his love extend.
He did not leave us in our plight
But to the rescue came,
Our strong defender in the fight,
Jehovah is his name.

His powerful hand has been our shield
And glorious is his might,
And all the hosts of evil now
are shattered at the sight.
The breath divine that gave us life
The mighty flood sets free,
And so the water’s swirling rage
Devours our enemy.

Almighty is the power of God,
His love will never end,
He has redeemed us, set us free,
and leads us by the hand.
And now he brings us to that place
Where we may dwell secure,
The holy house of God shall be
Our haven evermore.

All glory be to God on high,
The Father, Spirit, Son,
To whom we raise the melody
Of our salvation’s song.



Ely Cathedral, 28th February 

As soon as you walk out of the chilly evening air through the West door,
you know that something is about to begin.
The pool of light in the Octagon draws you closer,
and you walk the length of the darkened nave,
your quiet footfalls on the stone floor.

As you approach the light,
you see that there are others sitting, waiting,
and you pause, wondering…
The air of expectation is palpable.
It’s then you notice that the lit space in front of you is not empty:
there are people standing, forty of them,
in a loose circle around the octagon,
each of them holding what look like a broadsheet newspaper.
Some kind of performance – but what?

Intrigued, you draw closer – almost afraid to come into the light,
and stop just short, taking a seat behind the nearest performer,
and you can just make out what she is holding:
it is no newspaper, it is music,
forty staves, most of them blank and empty,
with just a handful of dots floating among the top few lines,
as if they are yet to succumb to gravity.

As you sit the silence becomes so intense you can almost hear your own heartbeat.
It’s the silence of the Spirit of God sweeping over the deep,
before the universe is spoken into being.
The potential, of all that might be,
and is not yet.

You hardly dare breathe.

And then, into the silence, comes a single voice,
joined by another, and another, like an echo:
Spem in alium’ they sing to one another.
Spem in aliumall my hope on God is founded.
The Spirit moving over the face of the deep
gives breath to the dawning universe,
and it speaks its first word,
sings its first song.

The music grows.
The singer in front of you turns a page,
and the you see the notes falling further down through the lines of music,
like raindrops down a window pane.

You risk a glance around the circle of singers
– the sound has swelled and fills the space,
but still not all are singing.
On the vast sheet of music that those last few lines are still empty.
There they are – the singers who have yet to sing a note.
Are they waiting, perhaps as you were waiting, before it all began?
But watching  them, you see that their silence is active, attentive,
hanging on every pulse of every bar.
It is their silence that allows the others to be heard.
It is their silence that gives hospitality to each new voice,
each soaring phrase that belongs to another.
It is the silence of listening, the silence of generous give and take.
It is the silence of the forgotten people of God
– the women and men whose stories were never told,
and yet whose very presence has hosted the story of salvation.

As you listen to the music ebb and flow, and swell and grow,
your own silence joins the performance,
you feel your own heart start to beat in time with the collective pulse,
you breathe with the arc of each new phrase.
Your silent listening gives a voice to hope, to beauty, to the praise of God.

And so the music flows, and grows, until all forty voices sing,
each line unique, the sound intense and complex
– tiny phrases escape like tendrils of flame caught in echo,
before the music subsides a little, only to build again
into a near-cacophony of disparate voices.

Then suddenly, there’s a single beat of silence when all forty singers breathe as one.
It’s not the silence of potential, nor of generous hospitality,
but a silence that enables common purpose,
a silence that draws many voices into one voice,
the silence that says, ‘here we are, and here is God, with us:
spem in alium: my hope on God is founded’
but it is no longer my hope alone, our separate hope,
it is the hope of all humanity, and that is why we can sing – why we must sing.’
The silent breath is the silence of the Bethlehem hilltop
in the moment just before the angels sing their Gloria,
the silent breath that draws shepherds and magi alike
into the common song of all heaven touching earth.

The music goes on, the voices soar
and each new phrase flies upwards,
settling like doves in the high arches and carvings
of the lantern above you.

Amid the oscillating chords and echoes,
another sudden silence breaks the pattern,
and a startlingly different chord, as if from nowhere, takes us in a new direction,
snapping your attention from the lofty arches back to the ground.
This silence was less a gathering, a collective sigh,
and more an abrupt halt that allows the turning of a corner,
a choice, a new direction.
It is the silence of Elijah’s mountain,
the momentary retreat from the cacophony of warring factions
that lets him hear the still small voice of God speaking:
‘This is the way that you must go’ it says,
‘the way is hard, the path is new,
but take heart, and do this new thing that I am giving you’.
Without the silence, there could be no change,
no strange and striking chord,
no new revelation of God’s grace…

One final silence emerges from the sound, the longest of the three.
A long, long breath, a sigh.
It is almost the silence of Gethsemane, or even of the cross,
it is the silence into which Christ prays, ‘Thy will be done’,
the silence of obedient acceptance.
The choir breathes in: ‘Respice’ they sing,
‘respice’ – be mindful of us, O God, in our humility.
It is the silence when we take all that has gone before,
and place it into the hands of God.
It could be the silence of our own Gethsemane, our own cross.
It is the silence in which we see that we are not forsaken,
but that God is mindful of us,
and that, despite everything,
we are held.

All forty voices reach a final cadence,
and one last chord soaks slowly into the stone walls.
There should be a moment when the last sound is gone,
when one can say at last that ‘it is finished’.
But this silence speaks not of ending, but of beginning,
the anticipation palpable as before it all began.
It is the silence before applause,
before we all start to breathe and move again
and go our separate ways.

It is the silence of the first dark Easter morning,
the silence of the empty tomb,
before the resurrection was made known.
It is the silence into which God speaks your name,
and sends you from the garden, like Mary,
to share what you have heard.
It is the silence into which we speak our own Amen,
our own ‘thy will be done’ to all we’ve heard:
our excitement at creation and re-creation,
our willingness to change and grow,
our desire for the grace to listen generously and be heard joyfully.

O God, give us breath and speech,
that we might join with angels and archangels,
and echo the silent music of your praise.