Approaching this weekend of worship commemorating All Saints/All Souls, we remember those family members and friends who have passed from this life. For many, the classic hymn synonymous with All Saints/All Souls is Sine nomine: “For all the saints, who from their labors rest.” From the opening foundational organ pedal tone, eight hymn stanzas depict life of all saints and the call to eternity by our Father.
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be for ever blessed.
(verse 1, The Hymnal 1982, #287)
The writer of this text–William Walsham How (1823-1897)—renowned for his work with the poor in the slums and factories in London’s East End—was referenced by the names “Poor Man’s Bishop” and “The Children’s Bishop.” Throughout his life, How penned texts for 54 hymns, yet, this is his most beloved work, with music set by English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).
Included within another Episcopal hymnal—Wonder, Love & Praise—is an alternate text set to the same tune; here, titled “Give thanks for life,” written by New Zealand poet Shirley Erena Murray (1931-2020).
Give thanks for life, the measure of our days,
Mortal, we pass through beauty that decays,
Yet sing to God our hope, our love, our praise.
(verse 1, Wonder, Love & Praise, #775)
Celebrating God’s gift of life, goodness and endearing hope, this hymn seems particularly relevant this year as we enter the 21st month of the global pandemic.
Amidst suffering and loss across all geographic and socio-economic boundaries, there is still much to offer thanks for.
Remembering all those who touched hearts and lives during their time on earth;
and, …for all our daily blessings;
Lord, we thank you.
Soli Deo Gloria,