STLT#272, O Prophet Souls of All the Years

Fred’s back!

Good ol’ Frederick Hosmer (with an M)  – 19th/early 20th c Unitarian minister and hymn lyricist – gives us the lyrics to the second of our two official Pentecost hymns.

I say official because according to STLT, this and Come Down O Love Divine are the two marked “Pentecost” – but what has become clear is that we have a lot of Pentecost hymns and songs all over our hymnals… from the joyful Every Time I Feel the Spirit, the jazzy Do When the Spirit Says Do (from Singing the Journey), and even the prayerful Spirit of Life.

It seems to me that Unitarian Universalists should be the people of the Pentecost, that time of spirit calling us to answer yes to loving the hell out of this world. Whether you believe this is the time of Jesus’ ascension into heaven or just that moment when the disciples truly became apostles (meaning they went from learning to preaching), it is a significant recognition of that which some call Spirit (or which we might call the fire of commitment – another good Pentecost hymn, as I think about it) dwelling within us, being that flame that burns within.

So I don’t know about our having only two official Pentecost hymns – but I do know this: as I said yesterday, Pentecost is about joy and excitement; I don’t think it’s a mistake that our General Assembly happens each year just after Pentecost, as we often get ourselves revved up for the work ahead, and our church is reborn a little into something a little different each time.

Anyway, I really like the lyrics Hosmer gives us for a Unitarian Pentecost:

O prophet souls of all the years, speak yet to us in love;
your faroff vision, toil and tears to their fulfillment move.

From tropic clime and zones of frost they come of every name;
this, this our day of Pentecost, on us the tongues of flame.

One Life together we confess, one all-in-dwelling Word,
one holy Call to righteousness within the silence heard:

One Law that guides the shining spheres as on through space they roll,
and speaks in flaming characters on Sinais of the soul:

One Love, unfathomed, measureless, an ever-flowing sea,
that holds within its vast embrace time and eternity.

What I don’t love is the tune. This one is Bangor – a serviceable tune to be sure, but not at all a rouser. In fact, it’s somewhat dour and all too serious. As it’s in common meter (CM), we have a plethora of other tunes to choose from – I personally like the McKee tune for these lyrics but would love even a new tune if that ever happened.

And yes, I still maintain that “love” and “move” don’t rhyme. GRR.

But all in all, a good hymn. Just don’t let this be the only Pentecost song you sing.

One response to “STLT#272, O Prophet Souls of All the Years”

  1. “People of the Pentecost” — love it. 😉 BTW, I was curious which hymns are listed in the topical index as Pentecost hymns. Turns out that in addition to the two “official” hymns, it also lists: God of Many Names, and yep, Spirit of Life. 🙂

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