A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Two small occasional works

This has been a delightful weekend. On Saturday, I attended the Golden Gate Sacred Harp singing in San Francisco (with a nice Après-chant at Philip’s house, nicely described by Linda, who also has pictures of the singing). In the morning today, Jeff Shrager took me to see redwoods and banana slugs and tidepools, capped by some nice bluegrass music at a cafe. Worship at Sojourners was also good.

Back in Michigan, I missed some cool things happening. Bess hosted an Earth Day parade for our neighborhood, with lots of bikes and kids and people dressing up like something they admired in nature (Bess went as a maple tree). Some 60 people came; I wish I could have been there. Or perhaps at Sam Sommers and Beth Hall’s house blessing in Elkhart that I was disappointed to miss.

Anyway, I wrote two small occasional works for this weekend. One was the opening prayer for the Golden Gate singing; the other a text to sing to a new tune by Thomas Malone that he composed for Sam and Beth’s house blessing. First, the text for the tune (in “Common Meter,” so you can sing it to Amazing Grace or the Gilligan’s Island theme song). It helps to remember that Sam and Beth’s last names:

Home Blessing

The halls we build seem grand and strong
And sturdy in our sight;
Eternal eyes can see them fall
Swift as a summer’s night.

So, gracious Lord, we ask Thou grant
Our homes be built on praise,
And guide us to Thy boundless halls
And ceaseless summer days.

And here’s the prayer, with footnotes, even, since it’s a bit of a pastiche:


When you laid earth’s foundation the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted for joy [1]. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you have perfected praise [2]. The very stones would cry out should forget our voices [3].

We have neither the innocence of babes nor subtlety of angels to praise you as you deserve. What we do have is this time and this place and these voices.

So, in the singing of our spiritual songs, let us sing with a soul flying away to you; help us not give over the struggle till we feel ourselves come into a holy symphony with the saints [4] who with the angels and babes and stones and stars shout out your perfect praise.

I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith [5]. Amen.

[1] After Job 38:4,7.
[2] Matthew 26:16. On the title page of William Billings’s New England Psalm-Singer, the first book composed of music written in America.
[3] After Luke 19:40
[4] After Cotton Mather (from The Accomplished Singer, quoted in the biography William Billings of Boston, by David P McCay and Richard Crawford).
[5] After Hebrews 12:2


2 responses to “Two small occasional works

  1. scott April 23, 2007 at 10:56 am

    I like the home blessing very much; it almost made me cry. It is a fresh cup of pathos and glory. I especially like the double meaning of “Our homes be built on praise”… our families praises to God, and our praises to each other.

  2. Linda April 24, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    I’m charmed by the Earth day parade and Bess dressed as a maple tree.

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