Even before we call on your name, to ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
surpassing all we know.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Even with darkness sealing us in, we breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
we trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
beyond all mortal dream.
Both now and for ever, And unto ages and ages. Amen.
Text by Michael Dennis Browne
Composed by Stephen Paulus (1949-2014), Pilgrim’s Hymn is a pure and heartfelt prayer of faith and trust, one that glorifies God and asks for guidance along the journey, even when surrounded by sin, darkness, and turmoil. In today’s gospel, we see a sinner who wants to be renewed by seeking Jesus, to the point of climbing a tree to be able to see the Lord amidst the surrounding crowd. Jesus shows him grace and love, saying, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” The composer of this meditative a cappella piece, Stephen Paulus, was the co-founder of the American Composers forum in 1974, and was a member of the ASCAP Board of Directors for over 20 years before he died tragically in 2014 at the age of 65. He wrote 450 pieces of music in his lifetime; 150 are for choir, and this is possibly the most beautiful.
Our second piece is “Be Still My Soul,” a choral arrangement by Mack Wilberg (b. 1955), a favorite anthem of his that brings memories of loved ones who have gone before us. It uses the famous tune, “Finlandia,” by Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The text of this song draws parallels with today’s first and second readings, with the Lord’s “imperishable spirit” that preserves all things, who “bring[s] to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith,” and the Psalm, which acclaims: “The Lord is faithful in all his words, and holy in all his works.”
Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as he has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
—Lorraine Joy Welling, Director
Gloria Dei Choir