Upcoming Service Notes, Sept. 24, 2017

Both this coming Sunday the 24th and World Communion Sunday on Oct. 1st, Rev. Michael Caldwell will be in our pulpit.

Building on inspiration from his last time among us on Sept 3rd and using the Lord’s Prayer as a base,  Rev. Michael will focus on “How the Kingdom Comes” in two sermons Sept 24 and World Communion Sunday Oct 1. We can be very practical about how to live out Jesus’ prayer for God’s kingdom to come on earth as in heaven.

At Rev.  Michael’s request the opening hymn will be O Master Let Me Walk With Thee which in this arrangement of piano/organ duet carries in it the musical sense of walking together in harmony. Set to the tune of Maryton by H. Percy smith, the words of Congregational minister  Washington Gladden were not without controversy when he published his poem “Walking With God” and the stanza dealing with social justice was omitted in hymnals.

Here’s why:

Gladden was a champion for social justice. In 1875, he became pastor of the North Congregational Church in Springfield, MA for seven years. His active support for the right of workers to organize began during his years in Massachusetts. Although he aroused the opposition of mill and factory owners, Gladden would not be silenced from speaking out on social justice issues. He continued preaching about labor-management problems, encouraging cooperation between employers and employees.

Not surprisingly, there were many who felt the role of a minister was “to save souls, not to regulate business.” As if that weren’t enough, Gladden even began to challenge the idea that the Bible was inerrant in matters of science and history.

Albert E. Bailey, author of “The Gospel in Hymns” stated that Gladden “found his fellow-clergymen without courage to follow him, for heresy trials were beginning in the Congregational Church.”

Here is the stanza dropped from the hymnals:

O Master, let me walk with thee
Before the taunting Pharisee;
Help me to bear the sting of spite,
The hate of men who hide thy light.
The sore distrust of souls sincere
Who cannot read thy judgments clear,
The dullness of the multitude,
Who dimly guess that thou art good.

But Gladden and all like him strong in their conviction for social justice, prevailed and eventually helped triumph the rights of workers from the pulpit, in print, and in speeches.

Few of those still singing O Master Let Me Walk With Thee know that the poet who wrote the stanzas was one of the editors of the original Pilgrim Hymnal  nor that he was a nationally known and ultimately revered champion for social justice. But now we know!

Let’s all sing with energy and resolve this Sunday!