I wrote the first verse in 1999, while I was working at Calvin College with the LOFT (Living Our Faith Together) services, a student-led Sunday night worship service (see 535). A wonderful liturgical habit had developed there: we concluded each Sunday evening service singing a biblical blessing and doxology: “My Friends, May You Grow in Grace.” I wanted us to develop a parallel ritual/habit for the opening of worship—something that would immediately remind us of our purpose for gathering and could sustain repeated use, able to transition into something more up-tempo or down-tempo. I wrote the first verse to meet that need.
Years later, when I begin working at Western Theological Seminary, our daily services of morning prayer were likewise in need of an initiating song—something that had the character of invocation, something sung that would bring us from our own individual concerns and join us together in heart and mind and breath, something that would connect us to the daily prayer tradition of the church. I tweaked the traditional morning prayer versicles from Psalm 51 and Lamentations 3:22-23 to fit the tune I’d written earlier.
The following year, I did the same sort of thing, composing verses to be sung when celebrating the Lord’s Supper. We commune weekly at Western Theological Seminary, and value the poetry and theology of the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving—a prayer, which, like a sung grace before a family meal, bathes the feast in gratitude. But I learned through my teaching that many of our students experienced the Great Prayer when spoken from a prayer book or printed liturgy as an inexplicably “necessary” series of disconnected ‘talky’ bits, interrupted by congregational talky bits.The prayer’s internal logic and Trinitarian structure were unappreciated.The coherence is underscored by inviting the musicians to play quietly during the three sections of prayer spoken by the presider, and the structure is made plain by setting each congregational response (Preface/Sursum Corda, Sanctus/Benedictus, Memorial Acclamation, and Great Amen) to the same basic tune.
Greg Scheer (b. 1966) has composed hundreds of pieces, songs and arrangements. His music is published by Augsburg Fortress, GIA, Abingdon Press, Worship Today, Faith Alive and in numerous hymnals. He has won commissions from the Iowa Choral Directors Association, Iowa Composers Forum, Linn-Mar High School String Orchestra, Chagall String Quartet and Northwestern College. His electronic piece, "Crossfade," was included on the CD ...from everlasting to everlasting... His string quartet "6" was featured on WQED in Pittsburgh and was also a winning composition in the 2000 Southeastern Composers' Symposium. His hymn "People of the Lord" won the Calvin09 hymn contest and was subsequently sung and published internationally.
Author and Composer Information
Ron Rienstra is a graduate of the University of Michigan (BA in philosophy, 1987), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv 1992), and is a PhD Candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary in worship. After teaching at Central College in Pella, Iowa, he was part of a team that nurtured the spiritual life of students at Calvin College, and since 2006 has taught worship at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, where he also is the faculty advisor for daily chapel. His publications include Ten Service Plans for Contemporary Worship, 2 volumes (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2003 and 2006) and, with his wife Debra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry (Baker, 2009). He also has written more than fifty articles in Reformed Worship since 2000.
You can view this hymn by purchasing it in our Lift Up Your Hearts mobile app.
Due to copyright restrictions,
we cannot display this hymn on our website or provide printable copies of it.