Sunday, February 17, 2008

Father, Long Before Creation

Father, Long Before Creation

Father, long before creation
Thou hadst chosen us in love,
And that love so deep, so moving,
Draws us close to Christ above.
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us
Firmly fixed in Christ alone.

Though the world may change its fashion,
Yet our God is e'er the same;
His compassion and His covenant
Through all ages will remain.
God's own children, God's own children
Must forever praise His name.

God's compassion is my story,
Is my boasting all the day;
Mercy free and never failing
Moves my will, directs my way.
God so loved us, God so loved us
That His only Son He gave.

Loving Father now before Thee
We will ever praise Thy love,
And our songs will sound unceasing
'Til we reach our home above,
Giving glory, giving glory
To our God and to the Lamb.

This hymn is found in The Hymnbook (1955). The words are anonymous Chinese from about 1952 and translated by Francis P. Jones in 1953.

The tune, Miller Chapel (8. 7. 8. 7. 4. 4. 7), was written by David Hugh Jones in 1954. A google search on his name turns up not only that a person of that name was the choir director at Princeton Theological Seminary at that time, but also that there is a "Miller Chapel" on that campus, so I am pretty sure that is who it is.

The melody line is written in a pentatonic mode (it can be played using just the black keys on a piano), thus is neither major nor minor. It has a faintly oriental sound to it.

This hymn is one of the "sleepers" of the 1955 hymnal. It did not make it into subsequent Presbyterian hymnals, although it has been used by others with a different tune. Its words are full of meaning and it has a beautiful and haunting tune.

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