246

God Is Here

Scripture References

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246

God Is Here

Additional Prayers

Optional prayer for church anniversary or dedication
Lord of the church,
what a privilege it is to be welcomed into your family,
to be called together to love and serve you
and the world that you so love.
Thank you for the many ways you have blessed this community
as one part of your worldwide body . . .
Strengthened for service by gratitude,
we dedicate ourselves to you.
Help us to walk in step with your Spirit,
our comforter and guide. Amen.
246

God Is Here

Hymn Story/Background

Fred Pratt Green wrote this text early in 1978 in Norwich, England. Russell Schulz-Widmar, co-director of Music at Univeristy United Methodist Church, Austin, Texas, had requested that Pratt Green write a hymn text to be sung at the closing service of an eight-month festival on worship, music, and the arts, held at the University United Methodist Church. In that service on April 30, 1978, the church dedicated its new chancel furniture (thus st. 2), and the people rededicated themselves to God. The text was first published in the British/Methodist supplementary volume Partners in Praise (1979).
 
Henrietta Ten Harmsel wrote the fifth stanza for the 75th anniversary of her congregation, Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan in December 1990. Originally, the last line said “Lord, your works cannot be numbered, Neland Church belongs to you”. She also wrote the following litany for use at the anniversary.
 
Litany of Praise
Today we celebrate the 75th anniversary of Neland Avenue Church.
Many, O Lord, are thy wonderful works.
For 75 years God's Word has been proclaimed in this place.
Many, O Lord, are thy wonderful works.
For 75 years the sacraments have been celebrated in this place.
Many, O Lord, are thy wonderful works.
Countless children, parents, and grandparents have been part of Neland Church.
They are more than can be numbered.
Countless prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and praise have been offered in this place.
They are more than can be numbered.
Countless witnesses have gone out from Neland to spread the gospel in this community and throughout the world.
They are more than can be numbered.
All of our activities,
all of our sacraments,
and all of our doxologies
we offer up in praise to God.
Many, O Lord, are thy wonderful works;
they are more than can be numbered.
With thanksgiving for the past,
with joy in the present,
and with hope for the future
we celebrate this anniversary.
Many, O Lord, are thy wonderful works;
they are more than can be numbered.
 
"God Is Here" helps us celebrate what it means to be a church: to offer praise and prayer to God with "all our varied skills and arts" (st. 1), to preach the Word and participate in the sacraments (st. 2), to foster faith and service (st. 3), and to live lives in "church and kingdom" that bring glory to our Lord (st. 4). This text presents a catalog of the central tasks of the church and emphasizes the relationship between Sunday worship and daily living.
 
NETTLETON is a rounded bar form (AABA) with a harmonization easily sung in parts by congregations. Named for nineteenth-century evangelist Ahasel Nettleton, the tune was published anonymously.The tune may possibly be related to a group of folk melodies used for "Go Tell Aunt Rhody Her Old Grey Goose Is Dead."
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Already in the 1970s Fred Pratt Green (b. Roby, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, 1903; d. Norwich, England, October 22, 2000) was considered by Erik Routley to be the most important British hymn writer since Charles Wesley, and most commentators regard Green as the leader of the British "hymn explosion." Green was educated at Didsbury Theological College, Manchester, England, and in 1928 began forty years of ministry in the Methodist Church, serving churches mainly in the Yorkshire and London areas. A playwright and poet, he published his works in numerous periodicals, his poetry was also published collectively in three volumes, including The Skating Parson (1963) and The Old Couple (1976). Though he had written a few hymns earlier, Green started writing prolifically after 1966, when he joined a committee to prepare the Methodist hymnal supplement Hymns and Songs (1969) and was asked to submit hymn texts for subjects that were not well represented. His hymn texts, numbering over three hundred, have appeared in most recent hymnals and supplements and have been collected in 26 Hymns (1971), The Hymns and Ballads of Fred Pratt Green (1982), and Later Hymns and Ballads (1989). In 1982 Green was honored as a Fellow of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.
— Bert Polman

Henrietta Ten Harmsel (b. Hull, IA, 1921; d. Grand Rapids, MI, March 16, 2012) attended Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. From 1949 to 1957 she taught English at Western Christian High School in Hull, Iowa, and from 1960 until retirement in 1985 was a member of the English department at Calvin College. Many factors contributed to Ten Harmsel's interest in the psalms. As a child she learned Dutch from her parents, and they instilled in her a love for the Dutch Psalter. Later J. W. Schulte Nordholt, poet, hymnologist, and professor of American history at the University of Leiden, became a great promoter of her interest in Dutch language and literature and her translation work. Ten Harmsel's translations from Dutch include Jacobus Revius: Dutch Metaphysical Poet (1968) and two collections of children's poems: Pink Lemonade (1981) and Good Friday (1984). In 1984 Ten Harmsel was awarded the Martinus Nijhoff translation award.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

A printer by trade, J. Wyeth (b. Cambridge, MA, 1770; d. Philadelphia, PA, 1858) is important in the history of hymnody as a compiler and publisher of early shape-note tunebooks. He worked briefly in Santa Domingo but had to flee when a revolt oc­curred. In 1792 he settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he lived for much of the rest of his life. A Unitarian, he was coeditor for some thirty-five years of the Federalist newspaper Oracle of Dauphin, a prominent source of news and opinion. Not a musician himself, Wyeth published Repository of Sacred Music (1810) and, with the help of Methodist preacher and musician Elkanah Kelsay Dare, Repository of Music, Part Second (1813). Intended for Methodist and Baptist camp meetings, these tune books contained a number of anonymous folk tunes as well as music by a number of composers, includ­ing William Billings. The two volumes influenced the next generation of tunebooks, such as Southern Harmony, and a number of the folk tunes have survived as hymn tunes in various modern hymnals.
— Bert Polman
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