Let Our Ordered Lives Confess The Beauty of Thy Peace

One of the really lovely things about worshiping in churches around the world is that you encounter new music. As it happens, I was introduced to this hymn–now my very favorite–in our little, beloved Episcopal church in Scotland, only to discover that the beautiful lyrics are from a longer poem by the wonderful American Quaker poet and ardent abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier. It is one that I return to again and again, and which, I’ll confess, I often play on “repeat” when my inner life is something less than peaceful and quiet. I’m partial to the hymn sung to the tune of “Repton” by Parry (the more common tune in the US is sung to “Rest” by Frederick Charles Maker). The recording I most often return to is by Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins (see and hear below.)
And here are the words, well worth treasuring:
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.

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3 thoughts on “Let Our Ordered Lives Confess The Beauty of Thy Peace

  1. One of my favorite hymns too, though I had no idea that it came from a longer poem called “The Brewing of Soma”! I’m kind of glad the compilers of the 1982 Hymnal left out the part about

    The scourger’s keen delight of pain,
    the Dervish dance, the Orphic strain,
    The wild-haired Bacchant’s yell, –

    The desert’s hair-grown hermit sunk
    The saner brute below;
    The naked Santon, haschish-drunk,
    The cloister madness of the monk,
    The fakir’s torture show!

  2. We sang that song in the church I grew up in, Rachel. Thanks for reminding me of its beauty. And I agree with LaVonne – those lines are best left out of the hymnal!

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