Academic journal article The Hymn

Uncommon Mercy: Songs from a Dozen Lands

Academic journal article The Hymn

Uncommon Mercy: Songs from a Dozen Lands

Article excerpt

Uncommon Mercy: Songs from a Dozen Lands By Rusty Edwards. Foreword by C. Michael Hawn. Pittsburgh: Selah Publishing, 2013. Catalog no. 125-415. $15.00.

Although the subtitle mentions "a dozen lands," the contributors to Uncommon Mercy hail from fifteen countries and six continents, making for a rich and varied offering of words and music.

The index of authors and composers includes each artist's nationality. Three other indexes - metrical, copyright, and first lines - along with a foreword and an acknowledgments page, round out the rest of the commentary.

Works by composer and hymn-poet Rusty Edwards, whose credits and accolades appear on the back cover, provide the bulk of this collection of 46 hymns. With that said, the final two hymns in the book, "God be with you" (S'bogom) and "May God bless and keep you" (Spirit of Joy), are his only solo efforts. Edwards created each of the other pieces with one or more of over 30 different collaborators, a diverse wealth of hymn writers from many traditions and denominations. "As a winter rose," "Let the children join our dancing," and "There's a candle" each appear with two different musical settings, lending another level of resonance to this compilation.

The hymn texts - all in English, except for "Blessed morning, Jesus," which also has one stanza each in French, Japanese, Swahili, German, and Spanish - teem with a wide range of images in many categories, both literal and metaphoric, including the following phrases by Edwards, Robert E. Faus, Richard Leach, Jane Marshall, Shirley Erena Murray, Michael Perry, Celiwe Samkange, Debra von Fischer Samuelson, and Miriam Samuelson:

The natural landscape:

sand dune and snow

mountains moved and sand-grain blessings

water, earth and breeze

Flora and fauna:

healing herbs and shade of trees

a winter rose

as a snail will glide, protected by its shell

camel hooves

Time:

God's peace at the door of the year

the gospel is older than law

Now and Then are in God's hands

Human bodies:

breathing together

as we smell and taste the cup

sweat beads on forehead

if your heart beats, then you can love

God's presence:

miracles, you rain like manna

God will send bright signposts

donor of all blessing

the accompaniment of God

Depictions of Christ:

child of gladness, child of sorrow

Christ is the love and the mystery and laughter

the candle is the Lamb, Christ Jesus

With texts by more than a dozen authors, this book gives us a many-faceted experience of rhythm, cadence, structure, and sound. …

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