STJ#1039, Be Thou with Us

I’ve been wandering around the house for the better part of an hour, singing this sweet little piece by Tom Benjamin, with two questions on my mind:

First, what can I possibly say about this piece I quite like, when it’s short, theologically and ethically sound, and just plain pretty?

Second, and perhaps more importantly: is it an introit, a chalice lighting, a prayer, a response, or a benediction?

Be Thou with us,
now and always,
now and always,
blessed be.

Seriously, it could be any of those things. It could be sung to welcome all into the worship space at the top of the service. It could be sung as we invite the light into our chalices (reminiscent of a pagan line when calling in the directions, “be thou with us, spirit of fire.” It could be sung at the end of a pastoral prayer, or be the prayer itself. It could be a sending forth as a variation on “we extinguish this flame, but not the…” that many congregations use for extinguishing the chalice. It could be sung as the final notes of a service, blessing all who leave the worship space.

This might be the most utilitarian short piece we have, and one of my favorites.

Blessed be.

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