Poetry

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O Lord the Invisible

by Lionel E. Deimel

 

O Lord the invisible, help us to know

Your presence among us, wherever we go;

Embrace us as servants and keep us from sin,

That we may show others your Spirit within.

 

Help us and guide us and teach us your ways;

Chasten and chide us—you only we praise.

 

O Lord of compassion, help us to perceive

Afflictions of others that we might relieve;

Reveal to us poverty, hunger, and pain,

That through us their victims might succor obtain.

 

Help us and guide us and teach us your ways;

Chasten and chide us—you only we praise.

 

O Lord who gives comfort in times of distress

And bears our dark secrets we’re loathe to confess,

Teach us all our neighbors to love and to cheer,

To strengthen, encourage, and shelter from fear.

 

Help us and guide us and teach us your ways;

Chasten and chide us—you only we praise.

 

O Lord our redeemer, who died on the tree,

Bring others to know you and set their souls free;

Ordain us the messengers of your good news:

With purpose and ardor and love us suffuse.

 

Help us and guide us and teach us your ways;

Chasten and chide us—you only we praise.

 

O Lord who created us out of the clay,

We offer thanksgiving to you every day;

We worship and praise you and ask you to hear

The prayers of your people on this troubled sphere.

 

Help us and guide us and teach us your ways;

Chasten and chide us—you only we praise.

 

O Lord who e’re reigns in three Persons above,

The boundless and great, incarnation of love,

All glory is yours, sing the heavenly host:

Praise Father, praise Son, and all praise Holy Ghost.

 

Help us and guide us and teach us your ways;

Chasten and chide us—you only we praise.

 

I had wanted to write the text for a hymn for a long time, but doing so seemed a daunting task. The idea for this poem came to me while driving, and it came in the form of a scheme for the first lines of the verses. For a time, in fact, I only had first lines, though I quickly selected a meter and rhyme scheme. After putting off a concerted effort to finish the project, I completed a draft in a single day (3/13/2001). The text has undergone some minor changes since it was first written, but most of these have involved only punctuation.

The poem is meant to enumerate aspects of God and to suggest ways that we should respond to those attributes in the way we live our lives. I had not set out to write a Lenten hymn, though the hymn was written in Lent and is appropriate for that season, though not exclusively so. The doxology that is the last verse was perhaps the hardest to write. (See Some Personal Reflections on Hymns.)

I wrote a tune for this hymn, and the organist/choirmaster of my church, Douglas Starr harmonized it. Doug is a talented composer with his own Web site, TierneyStarrMusic.com, and I have been blessed by our collaboration. We spent much time discussing keys, rhythm, and notes, and the final arrangement is considerably more interesting than it would have been without Doug’s efforts. The result of this collaboration was a setting for unison voices. I hope that I can convince Doug eventually to write a four-part arrangement.

Click on one of the buttons below to download a MIDI file of the tune for this hymn or to download the sheet music. The latter is a PDF file. Click on the logo below the buttons if you need to download and install the free Adobe Reader to view or print the PDF file.

Of course, any visitors who might want to use this hymn should write me for permission to do so.

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— LED, 10/5/2005

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