It seems that every month or so there is a day I let my faithful – and even not so faithful – readers down. Today is one of them. I’ll chalk it up to utter exhaustion after an amazing, if sleep-deprived, week at SUUSI, and a beautiful but long drive home from the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to the foothills of the Adirondacks. And I’m not a kid anymore. This pace, while awesome in the moment, does take its toll. I slept in late, and even after two cups of coffee, I just can’t handle a new tune in four flats on my little keyboard app.
I’m sorry to say this tune, by composer Dede Duson and commissioned for this hymnal, seems like it is beautiful; but I just can’t get a handle on it. And as it turns out, the last time I encountered one of Duson’s tunes, I was also letting you all down, finding the tune too hard to manage through less-than-perfect conditions. Perhaps I need to find an accompanist I can call on mornings such as this to play tunes for me.
Anyway. Having not sung the tune – thus letting you and my practice down – I turn to the lyrics, by our old friend John Andrew Storey.
The star of truth but dimly shines behind the veiling clouds of night,
but ev’ry searching eye divines some partial glimmer of its light.
The certainty for which we crave no mortal ones can ever know;
uncharted waters we must brave, and face whatever winds may blow.
Though for safe harbor we may long, we must not let our courage fail,
and, though the winds of doubt blow strong, upon the trackless ocean sail.
From honest doubt we shall not flee, nor fetter the inquiring mind,
for where the hearts of all are free, a truer faith we there shall find.
I love this lyric. Every single line of it. The idea that we not only are able to have our answers questioned but that we can engage the search together, and that our hearts will open wide in the search? Sign me up.
I wish I was familiar with the tune and could teach it – I could have used this hymn several times in the last year. I mean, I could have us sing it to a different tune, like Winchester New (also used for As Tranquil Streams), but I would really like to use the new tune written for us.
So I ask: anyone willing to sign up to be on the other end of a Dial-A-Pianist Hotline?
Anyone know the artist of this image of safe harbor? Google is also failing me today.
2 responses to “STLT#297, The Star of Truth”
With apologies to Dede Duson, IMO this hymn tune is perfectly atrocious and should be jettisoned. I like your idea of looking for an alternate melody.
I love these lyrics SO much and have used this in services a number of times. But the tune is really not singable for a congregation. So I’ve used this with the tune of O Waly, Waly (or The Water Is Wide). It doesn’t scan perfectly, but well enough to make these wonderful lyrics singable!