529. Speak Forth Your Word, O Father

Text Information
First Line: Speak forth your word, O Father
Title: Speak Forth Your Word, O Father
Author: Charles Jeffries (1967, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 76 76 D
Scripture: Romans 10:14-17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 4
Topic: Church and Mission; Creation; Missions (3 more...)
Language: English
Copyright: By permission of Oxford University Press
Tune Information
Harmonizer: William France (1971)
Meter: 76 76 D
Key: c minor
Copyright: © William France

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Deut. 8:3, Matt. 4:4
st. 4 = Rom. 10:14-17, 2 Tim. 4:2

Charles J. Jeffries (b. London, England, 1896; d. Bromley, Kent, England, 1972) wrote this hymn text in 1967, revealing a zeal for the mission of the church that he also expressed in his life and work. After studies at Malvern College and Magdalen College, Oxford, England, he served on the continent in World War I and was seriously injured; his voice was also damaged. He spent his career as a public servant in the Colonial Office, rising to joint deputy under secretary of state. Knighted in 1956, he served on the boards of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge and the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Versions of his text were published in the Lutheran Worship Supplement (1969) and in the Canadian Anglican and United Hymn Book (1971), where it was set to the tune DURROW. Of the five original stanzas, 1-3 are included and a fourth stanza combines parts of Jeffries's stanzas 4 and 5.

Inspired by Deuteronomy 8:3, which is quoted by Christ in Matthew 4:4–"One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (NRSV)–this text is a prayer that all modern means of communication be used to spread the gospel. As we sing the final stanza, we dedicate ourselves to be effective witnesses for the cause of Christ.

Liturgical Use:
Services that focus on modern missions and evangelism, encouraging the use of contemporary media to spread the gospel; ordination/commissioning of mission personnel.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

DURROW was originally a traditional Irish folk melody associated with "Captain Thomson," a sea song from Ireland's Limerick region (Durrow is the name of a town in Ireland between Port Laoise and Kilkenny). The tune first appeared as a hymn tune in the Church Hymnary of 1927.

The harmonization by William France (b. New Liskeard, Ontario, Canada, 1912; d. Ottawa, Ontario, 1985) was taken from the Anglican and United Hymn Book (1971), for which he served on the hymnal committee. Educated at the University of Toronto, France was skilled in organ and piano as well as choral conducting and composition. He was organist and choirmaster at several United Church of Canada congregations and had a long and distinguished tenure at the Dominion-Chalmers United Church in Ottawa. France composed for piano and organ and wrote anthems and part songs.

Like many Irish tunes, DURROW is hexatonic (six tones, no A-flat in the melody). The tune has a wide range and a rounded bar form shape (AABA) with repeated melodic phrases that make it readily accessible. Sing the outer stanzas in unison and the middle ones in harmony.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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