38

In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Stanza 1 sets the theme for this song in pointing to the plan of God to embrace us, which was formed before “the first light shone”. Paul, in Ephesians 1:3-14, explains it more fully.  Other references such as John 6:47-51, Romans 8:37-39, and I Thessalonians 4:13-18 reinforce this truth.
Stanza 4 – the story of Hagar is found in Genesis 16:7-16 (and Galatians 4:21-31); the story of Sarah is contained in Genesis 17:15-22, 18:1-15, and 21:1-7; and that of Abraham is found in Genesis 12, 15, 17 and supplementary passages.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Rare is the song that reaches back into eternity, back into the “deep, unbounded darkness” of the world before creation, to note the work of God in “embracing us,” his children, as his own. In doing so, this song echoes the teachings of the Canons of Dort I, 7: “Before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, God chose in Christ to salvation a definite number...” The same is professed in Belgic Confession, Article 16.
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In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Introductory/Framing Text

This text was commissioned by Princeton Theological Seminary for its bicentennial celebration in the fall of 2012. The original text is Chinese, translated by Francis P. Jones. For the bicentennial celebration at Princeton Seminary, Martin Tel, the worship professor, asked Mel Bringle to work with Chi Yi Chen, formerly on the faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary and a colleague on the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song to create a new translation. First, Chi Yi Chen provided a literal translation of the Chinese characters and then assisted Mary Louise Bringle in the creation of the new paraphrase, also using the original English text, while keeping the 87874[4]7 meter.
 
The tune, DIVINUM MYSTERIUM, is a plainsong, or chant, associated with the “Divinum mysterium” text in manuscripts dating from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. The tune was published in triple meter in Theodoricis Petri's Piae Cantiones (1582). Some hymnals retain the dance-like triple meter, while others keep the original unmeasured form of the chant.
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In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Tune Information

Name
DIVINUM MYSTERIUM
Key
E♭ Major
Meter
8.7.8.7.8.7.7

Recordings

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In a Deep, Unbounded Darkness

Author Information

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle (b. 1953) is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and chair of the Humanities Division at Brevard College (Brevard, NC). A teacher at heart and a theologian by training (with a Ph.D. from Emory University and an assortment of publications in pastoral theology), she began writing hymn texts in 1999. Since that time, she has won a number of international hymnwriting competitions. GIA Publications, Inc. has published two single-author collections of her hymns (Joy and Wonder, Love and Longing in 2002, and In Wind and Wonder in 2007), as well as anthems written in collaboration with composers like William Rowan, Sally Morris, and others. Her texts and translations are included in publications from numerous denominations, including Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopalian, United Church of Canada, and Church of Scotland. She served as President of The Hymn Society and was chair of the committee that prepared Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal for the Presbyterian Church USA.