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O Great God and Lord of the Earth

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Many Scripture references point us to the concern for justice as a strong element in the kingdom of God. Similarly, the call to work for justice and to overcome injustice is a common cry.  For many of the following songs, see such passages as Deuteronomy 27:6, Psalm 9:9, 10:18,  64:1-6, 72:1-4, 119:134, 137:1-9, Proverbs 21:3, Isaiah 1:17,  Micah 6:6-8, Amos 5:15, Acts 10:34-38,  Colossians 4:1 and James 1:27.

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.”
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O Great God and Lord of the Earth

Confession

God of justice and mercy,
we confess that we, too often,
are arrogant and indifferent.
We are the guilty.
We have sinned by what we have done
and what we have left undone.
Clothe us in Christ’s righteousness
and teach us to act justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with you. Amen.
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O Great God and Lord of the Earth

Tune Information

Name
VOS SOS EL DESTAZADO
Key
e minor or modal
Meter
8.9.8.9.8.9.8.9

Recordings

Musical Suggestion

This song should be sung plaintively and is best accompanied by guitar. The setting is patterned after songs sung by Christians in Nicaragua and El Salvador, protesting the political and economic abuse of the poor. It may be sung in solidarity with those who continue to suffer such oppression.
293

O Great God and Lord of the Earth

Hymn Story/Background

John Bell (b. 1949) was born in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, intending to be a music teacher when he felt the call to the ministry. But in frustration with his classes, he did volunteer work in a deprived neighborhood in London for a time and also served for two years as an associate pastor at the English Reformed Church in Amsterdam. After graduating he worked for five years as a youth pastor for the Church of Scotland, serving a large region that included about 500 churches. He then took a similar position with the Iona Community, and with his colleague Graham Maule, began to broaden the youth ministry to focus on renewal of the church’s worship. His approach soon turned to composing songs within the identifiable traditions of hymnody that found began to address concerns missing from the current Scottish hymnal:
 
I discovered that seldom did our hymns represent the plight of poor people to God. There was nothing that dealt with unemployment, nothing that dealt with living in a multicultural society and feeling disenfranchised. There was nothing about child abuse…, that reflected concern for the developing world, nothing that helped see ourselves as brothers and sisters to those who are suffering from poverty or persecution. [from an interview in Reformed Worship (March 1993)]
 
That concern not only led to writing many songs, but increasingly to introducing them internationally in many conferences, while also gathering songs from around the world. He was convener for the fourth edition of the Church of Scotland’s Church Hymnary (2005), a very different collection from the previous 1973 edition. His books, The Singing Thing and The Singing Thing Too, as well as the many collections of songs and worship resources produced by John Bell—some together with other members of the Iona Community’s “Wild Goose Resource Group,” are available in North America from GIA Publications. 
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

In the mid-1980s, composer Guillermo Cuéllar composed the folk mass La Misa Popular Salvadoreña as a result of a commission from Archbishop Oscar Romero. Romero was assassinated while celebrating mass in El Salvador. Cuéllar himself was forced into excile for ten years due to threats on his life.
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