“What gift can we bring, what present, what token?” goes the first line of the hymn “What Gift Can We Bring” (UMH 87) by composer and hymn-writer, Jane Marshall. An apt hymn to be sung this month, as churches start to remind us of our annual pledges, and in response, we think about how much we can give.
As we contemplate this, and perhaps to pledge beyond the monies we offer, remembering that offering is about more than just monies – let some of the lyrics of this hymn help us ponder the act of offering.
Give thanks for the past, for those who had vision, who planted and watered so dreams could come true.
We have been blessed by people who have gone ahead of us but left behind a vision and legacy that we enjoy today.
Give thanks for the now, for study, for worship, for mission that bids us turn prayer into deed.
There are countless opportunities to study God’s Word, to worship as a community, and to do missions. May we be encouraged to actively participate and in so doing, may our lives be enriched so that we are able to serve the Lord our God with gladness and fullness of heart.
Give thanks for tomorrow, full of surprises, for knowing whatever tomorrow may bring, the Word is our promise always, forever, we rest in God’s keeping and live in God’s love.
With all the uncertainties of tomorrow, may we rely on God’s Word, His mercy and love.
This gift we now bring, this present, this token, these words can convey it, the joy of this day!
The author begins the final stanza with “This gift we now bring…”, linking back to stanza one. It is no longer a question, but a declaration that the gift that we bring is a gift from God. That gift is our life – a life that gives “honour and praise” to the living God.
This points us to David’s prayer of praise in 1 Chronicles:
“Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (1 Chronicles 29:13-14)
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing, this song we now offer in honour and praise!
So as we sing the last stanza, let us be grateful – “remembering”, “rejoicing”, and offering our lives “in honour and praise”!
About the author: Jane Marshall (b. 1924) is a composer and a hymn-writer. She was a contributor to the United Methodist Hymnal and her works include psalm responses, hymn text and tunes. She wrote the hymn “What Gift Can We Bring” in 1980 for the 25th Anniversary of her congregation, North Haven United Methodist Church, in Dallas, Texas. She is a distinguished member of the Fellowship of United Methodist Musicians in the United States of America. She continues to write and publish choral music. The hymn was published by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188 in 1982.
Judith Mosomos is Acting Director of Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.