Hymns & Songs

Let us show mercy to everyone for that is our calling

Aug 2009    

Help Us Accept Each Other
(United Methodist Hymnal, 560)

Help us accept each other
as Christ accepted us teach
us as sister, brother each
person to embrace. Be
present God, among us and bring us
to believe we are ourselves accepted and
meant to love and live.

Teach us, O God, your lessons,
as in our daily life

we struggle to be human and
search for hope and faith.
Teach us to care for people,
for all not just for some.
to love them as we find them
or as they may become.

Let your acceptance change us,
so that we may be moved

in living situations to do
the truth in love; to practice
your acceptance until we
know by heart the table of
forgiveness and laughter’s
healing art.

God, for today’s encounters
with all who are in need;
who hunger for acceptance
for righteousness and bread.
we need new eyes for seeing,
new hands for holding on
renew us with your Spirit;
and free us, make us one!

Words Copyright © 1975 by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL (www.hopepublishing.com) for the USA and Canada; and Stainer & Bell Limited, London, England, (www.stainer. co.uk) for all other territories.

APTLY MATCHED to the tune, “Acceptance”, by John Ness Beck (1930-1987), a well-known American composer, this hymn was written by equally prolific hymnwriter, Fred Kaan (1929-). Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, Kaan grew up as a teenager in Nazi-occupied Holland.

Interestingly, his father was a member of the Dutch Resistance and not surprisingly, his family sheltered a Jewish woman for two years. They also gave refuge to an escaped political prisoner. You can read more about his family background in http://www.stainer.co.uk/kaan.html.

Undeniably his family life shaped his concern for the marginalised and powerless and this comes through clearly in the hymns he wrote numbering more than 200 at present. Several of these including his translations can be found in the United Methodist Hymnal (numbers 120, 257, 313, 428, 439, 508, 560, 634).

In the midst of a prolonged economic downturn and a rapidly changing H1N1 situation in Singapore, what does it mean for us to accept one another? How can we love as Christ loves in such a situation where the natural human instinct is embodied in the phrase “every man for himself”? Do we trample over those who slow us down, or boast about our ability to drive a hard bargain for a souvenir from a vendor in a developing country? How do we show love and acceptance?

A few months ago, I read in e Straits Times about a Christian couple, Francis and Janice Wong, ( e Straits Times, Saturday 27 June 2009, page A26) who took it upon themselves to feed jobless migrant workers. According to the reporter, Elizabeth Soh, this came about after “they read horror stories in the newspapers about migrant workers being cheated and left homeless by unscrupulous agents … ” In a society where the typical response would be “let’s leave this to the relevant authorities to handle”, their selfless act of love ought to remind us of God’s command to actively care for our neighbours as ourselves.

Do we need to know who our neighbour is? A quick read of the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10: 27-37) will help us. Let us go forth and personally show mercy to everyone for that is our calling and responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ. Let it not be said that we just drop money into the offering bags and expect the church’s welfare committee to love others for us.

Finally, when we next sing this hymn in church – even if we struggle with the hymn tune by John Ness Beck, may that singing experience inform us that though loving others is not always easy, by doing so, it will enable us to know “by heart the table of forgiveness and laughter’s healing art”. – Fred Kaan

Music Sample – http://www.multimedialibrary.com/music/ MIDI/hymns/HelpUs.mid

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