Hymn of the week: The love of God comes close

I’m a big fan of the Iona Community’s songs and liturgies published under the Wild Goose Resource Group banner and in particular the songwriting partnership of John Bell and Graham Maule. Just as well, because of the four congregational hymns we sang this morning at St Luke’s Holloway, three were Bell & Maule compositions.   Assisted by an excellent pianist/organist and enthusiastic choir, we managed to sing them to the original tunes.

One of the hymns we sang this morning was ‘The love of God comes close’. This is one of the WGRG hymns that is finding a wider circulation: it can be found in Complete Mission Praise (set to the tune RHOSYMEDRE) and will be in the new Methodist hymnal Singing the Faith (along with 43 other hymns written or translated by John Bell). We sang it to the original tune MELANIE (also by John Bell), which is a unison melody with a rhythmic piano/organ accompaniment. I think we will try this tune sometime at Archway – before now I have sung it to LOVE UNKNOWN, which is suggested as an alternative tune.

Like many of Bell and Maule’s hymns, the language is modern and direct without being trite. We are invited to identify with those in need of God’s love, peace, joy and grace -perhaps we recognise our own needs and our need for love, peace, joy and grace. Then in the final verse we discover that these are embodied in Jesus, who comes close to us and “is here to stay, embracing those who walk his way.” It is an excellent Communion hymn, which is how we sang it this morning.

The love of God comes close
Where stands an open door
To let the stranger in,
To mingle rich and poor:
The love of God is here to stay
Embracing those who walk his way.

The peace of God comes close
To those caught in the storm,
Forgoing lives of ease
To ease the lives forlorn:
The peace of God is here to stay
Embracing those who walk his way.

The joy of God comes close
Where faith encounters fears,
Where heights and depths of life
Are found through smiles and tears:
The joy of God is here to stay
Embracing those who walk his way.

The grace of God comes close
To those whose grace is spent,
When hearts are tired or sore
And hope is bruised or bent:
The grace of God is here to stay
Embracing those who walk his way.

The Son of God comes close
Where people praise his name,
Where bread and wine are blest
And shared, as when he came:
The Son of God is here to stay
Embracing those who walk his way.

Words: John L Bell & Graham Maule (c) 1988, 1997
WGRG, Iona Community, G2 3DH

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About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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3 Responses to Hymn of the week: The love of God comes close

  1. Thanks for this 🙂 We sang this on Sunday. I’d been for the ‘March for the Alternative’ on Saturday and felt this hymn summarises a Christian position to solidarity very well 🙂

    • Holloway Rev says:

      Celia, thanks for replying. I find many of the Iona songs helpful because they do speak to our present day situation. I think that also they often address issues which have been ignored and marginalised by traditional hymnody. Hope you were inspired by the march on Saturday!

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