Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Mrs. Miniver (3)

Here is another hymn text by “Jan Struther” (the pen name for Joyce Anstruther 1901 -1953).  She is best known as the author of “Mrs. Miniver”.

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

It is a sweet enough text, and is well matched to the tune “Slane” (the same tune to which we sing “Be Thou my vision O Lord of my heart”)

I have often enjoyed singing this text.  It has a nice sense of the rhythm of each day, and it does not contain the “class prejudice” of the other two Jan Struther hymns which I have reviewed.  (See my blog entries for Sep 13th and 14th 2010).

Of course it reflects a “working day” of 9 – 5 which scarcely exists anymore. My friends who need three part time jobs in order to pay the rent and put bread on the table could hardly imagine such an ordered day!

So as I sing it I am bound to remember the hard scrabble lives of many working class people for whom “waking, labouring, homing, and sleeping” are at random times during any particular 24 hours.

(In addition, I wish that the first stanza read “your hope in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day”.  I rarely awaken with bliss!  If I am lucky I awaken with hope.) 

Incidentally, “Jan Struther” herself was an agnostic, but was also a regular church attendee.   In the “olden days” semi-agnostics or agnostics felt at home in the Church of England.  I am sad to say that’s no longer true.  I write as a semi-agnostic!

 

 

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