Hymn for the Innocents

On this Feast of the Holy Innocents, I would like to offer this hymn text which I wrote some years ago for anyone’s free use for a pro-life purpose.

The text considers a number of scriptural images of human embodiment, and God’s care for His people and indeed for each person, as a body-soul creation of special dignity.

The hymn proceeds chronologically, in the order of salvation history, and is in the meter of 87.87. D.

1. At the dawning of creation, God divided light from shade,
And He made us, male and female. In His image we were made.

And the life that God created we will honor and defend
From conception to the heavens; from beginning to the end.

2. God the Father called a people, and He drew them by the hand
And He led them through the desert and into the Promised Land.

3. In His saving Incarnation, Jesus bore a human frame
To restore the sacred Image hidden by our sin and shame.

4. And He walked among the people, healed the sick and raised the dead,
And the poor rejoiced at hearing the appealing words He said.

5. On the Cross, our gracious Savior Jesus laid His body down,
Dying as the Man of Sorrows; giving humankind a crown.

6. And He sent the Holy Spirit for forgiveness of our sins.
Even now God dwells among us; even now, new life begins.

7. When we share the Holy Myst’ries in the Eucharistic food
We are filled with life eternal: Jesus’ Body and His Blood.

8. When He comes again in glory, all the dead shall rise again,
And our human eyes shall see Him in the splendor of His reign.

There are a number of options for the music, including this setting of Corde Natus by Charles H. Giffen, a mathematician, musician, and composer in the Twin Cities area.

Charles is the President of the Choral Public Domain Library, and the Manager of ChoralWiki. As it happens, today is the Choral Public Domain Library’s 20th birthday. This vast database of choral scores available for free download makes building a high-quality, classical music library for Catholic worship much less expensive than any commercial alternative.

The Cathedral of Birmingham’s Director of Music Bruce Ludwick set the hymn in an American idiom, using the tune RESTORATION, from Southern Harmony.

Most recently I heard from Alan Lynch, the Director of Music at the Syracuse Cathedral, who  set the text to the popular tune HYFRYDOL.

While writing the text, I had the tune BEACH SPRING in mind, which lends itself to marching.

I would be very pleased if this text were to find wide usage during the coming month, when we particularly seek to protect all human life, from conception until natural death.