243

One People, Here, We Gather

Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

On the matter of unity among the people of God, see Ephesians 4:1-6. In Acts 2:1-13 see its display.  In I Corinthians 10:14-16 see the unity expressed at the Lord’s Table. And in contrast see the origin of division in Genesis 11:1-9.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

In stanza 1, this song speaks of a “Pentecost of nations” and in doing so, acknowledges like Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Question and Answer 54 does, which says: the Son of God gathers his church “…out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end.”

 

The Belgic Confession, Article 27 professes that the church is “…not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain people…but it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world...”

 

Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 30 testifies, “The Spirit of God gathers people from every tongue, tribe and nation into the unity of the body of Christ.”

 

In stanza 1, this song speaks about the “varieties of gifts” that God’s children possess. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 21, Question and Answer 55 professes that God’s children should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and joyfully for the full service and enrichment of the other members.”

 

The reference in stanza 1 of “one people” who “break one loaf together” finds its reference in Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 28, Question and Answer 76 when it says, “We are united more and more to Christ’s blessed body” and Question and Answer 77 when it says, “We who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

243

One People, Here, We Gather

Tune Information

Name
MUNICH
Key
E♭ Major
Meter
7.6.7.6 D

Recordings

243

One People, Here, We Gather

Hymn Story/Background

When asked about the origin of this hymn, Mary Louise Bringle writes:

This text was the winning entry in a 2002 competition to create a convocation hymn for San Francisco Theological seminary. The text honors the multicultural constituency of the seminary (“a Pentecost of nations”), its commitments to study (“Mary’s better part”), and even its geography (“from coastal bays to mountains”). The next-to-the-last line, “reformed yet still reforming,” echoes the important Calvinist motto that the Church is semper reformanda, always being reformed in light of the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.
 
While initially I had another tune in mind in crafting this text, the composer of that tune was reluctant to relinquish copyright should doing so have been necessitated by the hymn’s winning the seminary competition. To avoid any difficulties along these lines, I made the mental switch to the tune MUNICH, which I think paints the words quite well – particularly with the two measure shift from B-flat major to F minor and C minor on the phrases “When Babel tongues confound us” and “to live with honest questions.” (A small, parenthetical detail: I also like the way the notes in the first full measure on the last staff – B-flat, G, A-flat, and B-flat – form a partial circle, mirroring some of the circularity of “coastal bays” in stanza 3.)
 
— Mary Louise Bringle

The tune, MUNICH, has a colorful history. Traces of it run as far back as 1593 in the Dresden, Germany, Gesangbuch in conjunction with the text “Wir Christenleut.” A version from a Meiningen Gesangbuch (1693) is still used in Lutheranism for "O Gott, du frommer Gott." Felix Mendelssohn's adaptation of that tune for the quartet "Cast Thy Burden upon the Lord" in the oratorio Elijah (1846) is the most recent step in shaping MUNICH as we find it in Lift Up Your Hearts and other modern English hymnals.
 
Given its geographical roots, we may be fairly confident that the tune is named after the German city Munich, although the city's name in German is München.
Like many other chorales, MUNICH is in bar form (AABA'). Try singing it in harmo­ny and possibly unaccompanied on stanza 2.
 
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Mary Louise (Mel) Bringle (b. 1953) is Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies and chair of the Humanities Division at Brevard College (Brevard, NC). A teacher at heart and a theologian by training (with a Ph.D. from Emory University and an assortment of publications in pastoral theology), she began writing hymn texts in 1999. Since that time, she has won a number of international hymnwriting competitions and been featured as an "emerging text writer" by The Hymn Society in the US and Canada. GIA has published two single-author collections of her hymns (Joy and Wonder, Love and Longing in 2002, and In Wind and Wonder in 2007), as well as anthems written in collaboration with composers like William Rowan, Sally Morris, and others. Her texts and translations are included in publications from numerous denominations, including Roman Catholic, Mennonite, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Episcopalian, United Church of Canada, and Church of Scotland. She is currently serving as President of The Hymn Society and chair of the committee to create a new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church USA.
 
— GIA Publications, Inc. (http://www.giamusic.com)

Composer Information

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (b. Hamburg, Germany, 1809; d. Leipzig, Germany, 1847) was the son of banker Abraham Mendelssohn and the grandson of philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. His Jewish family became Christian and took the Bartholdy name (name of the estate of Mendelssohn's uncle) when baptized into the Lutheran church. The children all received an excellent musical education.
 
Mendelssohn had his first public performance at the age of nine and by the age of sixteen had written several symphonies. Profoundly influenced by J. S. Bach's music, he conducted a performance of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829 (at age 20!)—the first performance since Bach's death, thus reintroducing Bach to the world. Mendelssohn organized the Domchor in Berlin and founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music in 1843. Traveling widely, he not only became familiar with various styles of music but also became well known himself in countries other than Germany, especially in England. He left a rich treasury of music: organ and piano works, overtures and incidental music, oratorios (including St. Paul or Elijah and choral works, and symphonies. He harmonized a number of hymn tunes himself, but hymnbook editors also arrange some of his other tunes in hymn tunes.
 
— Bert Polman
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