Help us to Help Each Other

During this time whilst we can’t sing together in worship we are aiming to post a different hymn each week.  For some Sundays it will be the obvious hymn in Common Praise for a particular Sunday and a brief commentary – partly with reference to The Penguin Book of Hymns edited by Ian Bradley – will be published with our hymn choice for the week.  The words of the hymn will be provided alongside a recording of the hymn, courtesy of Lucy Colbourne at home whilst Lancaster University is in lockdown.  This will have been recorded by Billy Colbourne (Assistant Organist) and includes use of his Hauptwerk organ also at home, with the sounds of Salisbury Cathedral’s organ.

Charles Pavey – Organist & Choirmaster

Help us to Help Each Other, Lord

Help us to help each other, Lord,
each other's cross to bear;
let each his friendly aid afford,
and feel another's care.

Up into thee, our living head,
let us in all things grow,
and by thy sacrifice be led
the fruits of love to show.

Touched by the lodestone of thy love
let all our hearts agree;
and ever towards each other move,
and ever move towards thee.

This is the bond of perfectness,
thy spotless charity.
O let us still, we pray, possess
the mind that was in thee.

Charles Wesley

Tune: Dunfermline
Music: Scottish Psalter  

CCLI - 1073121





Hymn Commentary 

Help us to help each other, Lord is a gentler Hymn for the Week and picks up the theme of supporting each in other in all things, in suffering, in growth and as we move towards God and His will.  It is a collective prayer which contrasts with Holy Trinity’s Anthem for the Week, O God, you search me and you know me which is a very personal prayer. 

Help us to help each other, Lord are verses from a hymn first published in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1742.  As this is the fourth of Holy Trinity’s Hymns for the Week which Charles Wesley (b. 1707, Epworth, Lincolnshire, d. 1788, London) has written, it is no understatement to say that he must be considered as being one of the greatest hymn writers of all time – not just in terms of quantity but in quality too. 

The tune sung to Help us to help each other, Lord is Dunfermline.  It is one of the "common" tunes from Andro (or Andrew) Hart's psalter The CL Psalms of David of 1615; a "common" tune was one that was not matched with a specific text in a songbook.  The tune is attributed to John Angus (c.1515-1596), one-time precentor at Dunfermline Abbey during the Reformation and from which the tune takes its name.  I have a Scottish psalter that originally belonged to my Scottish grandfather and its noticeable physical attribute is that it is cut in half widthways; with the tunes in the top half and the words in the lower half, the tunes and words are easily interchangeable.  Subsequently updated in 1650, The Scottish Psalter created metrical hymns from Psalms.  In this way there is a connection to Holy Trinity’s Anthem for the Week God, you search me and you know me as it too is a paraphrase of a Psalm.

Charles Pavey - Organist & Choirmaster

PS.  One of the joys of writing these commentaries is the things you find out on the way.  You may know this already but, if you don’t, a lodestone (see verse three) is a naturally magnetized piece of the mineral magnetite which is a rock mineral and one of the main ores from which iron is made.  In the context of the hymn, it is the Lord’s love that is magnetic.

Anthem for the Week

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