May this place be one of nurture
where we all may come to know
how your endless love sustains us
as we live and move and grow.
May we work to build your kingdom
full of truth and light and grace,
living life in all its fullness
held in one divine embrace.
From our negligence and failures**
you have called us to repent,
drawing energy for action
from the voices of lament.
As the secret hurts long hidden
may at last be brought to light,
may the truth unlock the freedom
that is every person’s right.
For you hold the broken hearted
till they learn to live again,
and your justice stands like mountains,
while your mercy falls like rain
when the smallest child is valued,
and the strong empower the weak,
when each human life is hallowed
and the unheard voices speak:
So with humble thanks we praise you
and we lift to you in prayer
all the people you are calling
to this ministry of care.
Give us wisdom, grace and courage,
holding fast to all that’s good,
seeing Christ in one another
we will love and serve our Lord.
Words: © Ally Barrett
Music: Written with Corvedale (StF 416ii) in mind. However, a number of tunes are available for this metre and other options include Calon Lân (StF 323i); St Winifred (StF 197ii) and, with a slightly different rhythm and feel, Jesus calls us (StF 28)
“Corvedale” by Maurice Bevan
Ideas for use
Ally Barrett wrote this hymn in response to a request from someone planning a service for the commissioning of safeguarding officers (see more below). For any congregation reflecting on this important part of the Church’s work, this text offers words that are lovingly phrased and which complement words that already exist in the printed hymnbook.
Members of the Methodist Survivor’s Reference Group were offered the opportunity to see Ally’s words before publication and a number of them responded very positively, fully endorsing their use on StF+. One person wrote: “I think the hymn is very warm and encouraging”. Another was pleased to see the inclusive language “and caring words that encourage us to see Christ in one another”.
** It has also been noted that if sung without verse 2, this is a hymn that would be well suited for use in a service of dedication for Youth Workers and/or Pastoral Visitors.
Ally Barrett was invited to write this hymn for inclusion in a service at which safeguarding officers were to be commissioned.
Ally writes: “In recent years all churches have become increasingly aware of the importance of being attentive to the welfare of both children and vulnerable adults, and it feels appropriate to pray for, bless and affirm the huge number of people involved in safeguarding in one way or another. There is relatively little liturgical material on this issue, however; hence the request for a new hymn.”
In an article for Church Music Quarterly (June 2018), Ally adds that using Maurice Bevan’s tune “Corvedale” was a helpful stimulus when writing these words. “How to deal with a subject so sensitive and so important?” she asks. “How to write words that do not diminish the subject and that could be sung corporately without cringing or offence? Having been introduced to Corvedale. . . I chose it for this safeguarding hymn because I wanted to make the most of the resonances of open-heartedness and reliance on the abundant mercy of God.”
Ally has welcomed the idea that, without the inclusion of verse 2 (which specifically relates to safeguarding issues), this hymn could also be used in other contexts, as noted above.
More about the work and approach of safeguarding in the Methodist Church (including the Past Cases Review, “Courage, Cost and Hope”) can be found on the Methodist website’s Safeguarding page. If the issues expressed by this hymn have affected you, please feel able to contact the Methodist Church’s Connexional Safeguarding Team on 020 7467 3766 or 020 7467 5189; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ally Barrett is Director of Pastoral Studies at Westcott House, a residential theological college in Cambridge which trains women and men for ministry in the Church of England. She is a former parish priest and children’s minister, and has written several dozen hymns, often in response to requests for particular occasions and themes.