278

The City Is Alive, O God

Scripture References

Thematically related:

Further Reflections on Scripture References

In Isaiah 61: 1-3 the prophet foretells the coming of the Messiah, who will "preach good news to the poor … bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives… and comfort those who mourn." This text takes that view of Christ's ministry and applies it to Christian service in the urban context. The major cities of the world are fascinating places, but they also contain "loneliness and greed and hate," and "crime and slums and lust abound." Just as Christ ministered "through healing touch, through word and cross," so must the church minister the gospel in word and deed throughout the whole world, but especially in the cities. "The City Is Alive" encourages us to be servants in those urban centers, to give Christian hope to the world, and to offer a new song of shalom to its citizens.
 
Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Any song or testimony about the cries that comes from our nations and cities must be met with confessional statements about the mission of the church as listed here.
 
Our World Belongs to God, paragraphs 41-43 are explicit and pointed about the mission of the church: “In a world estranged from God, where happiness and peace are offered in many names and millions face confusing choices, we witness—with respect for followers of other ways—to the only one in whose name salvation is found: Jesus Christ.”
 
Later, Our World Belongs to God, paragraphs 52-54 point to the task of the church in seeking public justice and functioning as a peacemaker: “We call on our governments to work for peace and to restore just relationships. We deplore the spread of weapons in our world and on our streets with the risks they bring and the horrors they threaten…”
 
The Belhar Confession, section 3 calls the church to be a peacemaker, and section 4 calls the church “to bring about justice and true peace.”
 
Our Song of Hope, stanza 10 calls the church to seek “the welfare of the people” and to work “against inhuman oppression of humanity.”
 
278

The City Is Alive, O God

Assurance

Jesus said:
Come to me, all you that are weary
and are carrying heavy burdens,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
—from Matthew 11:28-30, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
278

The City Is Alive, O God

Tune Information

Name
STAR OF COUNTY DOWN
Key
e minor or modal
Meter
8.6.8.6 D

Recordings

278

The City Is Alive, O God

Hymn Story/Background

Ideas about the mission of the church have gone through many changes in the twentieth century. Thus the Hymn Society of America conducted a search in 1968 for new hymns about the task of the church in the world. The Society chose this hymn by William W. Reid, Jr., as one of the best texts from the more than eight hundred' submissions. It was published in the Hymn Society pamphlet Nine New Hymns on "The Mission of the Church" (1969).
 
In Isaiah 61:1-3 the prophet foretells the coming of the Messiah, who will "preach good news to the poor … bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives… and comfort those who mourn." This text takes that view of Christ's ministry and applies it to Christian service in the urban context. The major cities of the world are fascinating places, but they also contain "loneliness and greed and hate," and "crime and slums and lust abound." Just as Christ ministered "through healing touch, through word and cross," so must the church minister the gospel in word and deed throughout the whole world, but especially in the cities. "The City Is Alive" encourages us to be servants in those urban centers, to give Christian hope to the world, and to offer a new song of shalom to its citizens.
— Bert Polman

Author Information

William W. Reid, Jr. (b. New York, NY, 1923) was a Methodist minister serving congregations in Camptown, Pennsylvania (1950-1957), Carverton (near Wyoming), Pennsylvania (1957-1967); and the Central United Methodist Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (1967-1978), where he wrote this text. In 1978 he was appointed superintendent of the Wilkes-Barre district of the Methodist Church. Reid received his education at Oberlin College in Ohio, where he concentrated in botany. He served in the United States Army Medical Corps during World War II and survived imprisonment in a German prison camp. The recipient of a divinity degree from the Yale Divinity School, Reid was inspired to write hymns by his father, the founder and first executive secretary of the Hymn Society. A number of Reid's hymns were published in pamphlets issued by the Hymn Society in 1955, 1958, and 1959.
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Rory Cooney (b. 1952) has been the director of liturgy and music ministries at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington, Illinois, since 1994. His published compositions span a career of songwriting that began nearly 35 years ago, and continues to the present, as he tries to write to the needs of the church and the communities in which he serves. Early compositions were published by Composers’ Forum for Catholic Worship and Resource Publications in the 1970’s, and his works are represented in Gather and RitualSong, as well as other publications.
 
His recording career began in 1984, and virtually all of his recordings have been collaborations with his wife, Theresa Donohoo, and Gary Daigle. His most recent work with GIA has been the collection "Today" and Terry Donohoo’s "Family Resemblance."
 
Rory travels with Theresa and Gary Daigle giving concerts, days of renewal, missions, and workshops for parishes, dioceses, and organizations.
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