Hymn for Maundy Thursday: Brother, sister, let me serve you

This was a hard choice to make, and I may add one or more bonus hymns today. I was going to go with “Now my tongue, the mystery telling” but there are no decent youtube videos of that one to share. Maybe someone will fix that? Anyway, I hadn’t sung “The Servant Song” prior to the Lambeth Conference, and it’s been a favorite ever since. We’ll be trying this out at Christ Church this evening, so hopefully a few others will call this one a favorite soon. (Check below for a recording and a video.)

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you;
pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant too.

Words: Richard A. M. Gillard , 1977

Here’s a video of this being sung by the poet himself. Here is a recording from the Lambeth Conference in 2008. I was not prepared to record this. The hymn had started, and I was struck by the power and the beauty of the singing, so I pulled out the recorder to try to capture it. That’s one great thing about the Anglican Communion: when its bishops (and a few hangers-on) get together, they can really sing!

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1 Response

  1. John L Myers says:

    That has a nice sort of Taize sound to it in the rhythm of the lyrics and the almost chant-like simplicity of the tune.

    I’m torn between two favorites that bring out the absolute solemnity of this particular Eucharist. I couldn’t find a great improvisation on my #1 Choice, Adoro te (Humbly I Adore Thee) – they were all too jumpy, fast, and happy to make me believe lines like, “faith that comes through /hearing/ pierces through the veil.”

    So I decided on the one that never fails to bring tears to my eyes after a zillion years of singing every possible variation, Picardy (Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.)

    The song presents that moment of complete discernment when we are asked to Consider Well our preparation for what is to come next. Stop. Consider. Are you ready to approach the table with a clean and contrite heart, and with “fear and trembling stand.”

    And even as the song ends on a hymn of Aleluias, they still come to us in that quiet, minor tone that yes – this IS the real moment. And yes, as we rise and leave the table, we, too, will be the Change that Christ calls us to be.

    This one is in my favorites list on YouTube – a very solemn version for English horn and organ.

    You already know the words!

    Keep the Faith!

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