Music for Advent VIII

Not exactly an Advent piece, but perhaps a prayer with particular resonance in the Christmastime rush.

from The Brewing of Soma, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways!
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.
In simple trust like theirs who heard
Beside the Syrian sea
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.
O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love!
With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!


  1. At my school, the boys whisper the final line. They do it to take the mick to an extent. Still, this hymn has English public school written all over it. Kristine, again you prove you were born in the wrong place and wrong religion.

  2. I was thinking the exact same thing, Ronan. Next time you’re in town Kristine, I will take you to a service at St. Thomas the Apostle church. You’ll have your fill of staid music there, and it’s available year round.

  3. I see that the composer is C.H.H. Parry — another wonderful setting from this splendid musician.

  4. RJH & Mike, it’s true–I’m an Anglican in Mormon clothing, at least musically. Luckily, the Anglicans will be in charge of music during the millennium and in heaven :)

  5. This is one of my absolute favorite hymns (to Repton) and I’ve long thought it would make a great addition to the lds hymnal.

  6. My friends thought it was bizarre when we saw the movie “Atonement” in the theater and I sang along to this hymn.

  7. When the Stake Choir was rehearsing it, I accidentally made reference to its appearance in that (haunting, horrifying) scene in Atonement before remembering that I was probably the only person in the room wicked enough to have seen the movie. Does knowing the words to the hymn in the R-rated movie mitigate the evil? ;)

  8. Strange how the local traditions of hymn singing can vary. The large majority of instances when I have played this hymn for New York congregations, they have used the tune REST (both REST and REPTON are in the 1982 episcopal hymnal) Obviously REPTON is very popular in England; my guess is that its popularity in the US is growing but more recent, since it wasn’t included in the 1940 hymnal (REST and HERMANN were used). Of course, the 1940 hymnal had only one C.H.H. Parry tune – 1982 has five.

  9. Popular in England indeed:

    I’m surprised St. Patrick’s Breastplate isn’t on there.

  10. Bill, the old Harvard hymnal has it with SALVATION, from the Southern Harmony–have you seen that anywhere else, or is it a John Ferris-ism?