“God is Here” was written by the Rev Fred Pratt Green (1903–2000), who is considered one of the best hymn writers of the 20th century. A poet and prolific writer, he started writing hymns after he turned 60.
In 1978, the University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, requested from the Rev Green a hymn to be sung for the first time at the closing service of an eight-month-long festival focusing on worship, music and the arts. Besides dedicating new reading desks, a communion table and a baptismal font, the service centred on members’ rededication to the life commanded by and given through Jesus Christ.
This is a hymn that helps inform us about what happens during worship—people of varied skills and backgrounds, but with a shared faith in Christ, offer our praise and prayers to God, who is in our midst.
The hymn then describes the worship space. Here, symbols of God’s grace are present: the table reminding us of Holy Communion; the font of our baptism; the pulpit of God’s Word; and the cross of God’s grace and our salvation. And as we worship, the Holy Spirit comes to each of us.
The third stanza implies that worship shapes Christian discipleship. As a community of faith, we partake of the meal Christ instituted. In doing so, we discover the connection between our worship on Sunday and the rest of the week.
The Rev Green underscores God’s sovereignty with “Lord of all, church and kingdom”. Recognising our challenges in a fast-changing world, he offers a prayer of supplication that God will keep us faithful to the Gospel and help us fulfil His purposes.
The hymn ends with a plea for God to receive the dedication and all that the worshippers in the service can give. In humility, the Rev Green acknowledges that without God, we are nothing.
God is Here
God is here! As we your people
Meet to offer praise and prayer,
May we find in fuller measure
What it is in Christ we share.
Here, as in the world around us,
All our varied skills and arts
Wait the coming of the Spirit
Into open minds and hearts.
Here are symbols to remind us
Of our lifelong need of grace;
Here are table, font and pulpit;
Here the cross has central place.
Here in honesty of preaching,
Here in silence, as in speech,
here, in newness and renewal,
God the Spirit comes to each.
Here our children find a welcome
In the Shepherd’s flock and fold;
Here as bread and wine are taken,
Christ sustains us as of old.
Here the servants of the Servant
Seek in worship to explore
What it means in daily living
To believe and to adore.
Lord of all, of church and kingdom,
In an age of change and doubt,
Keep us faithful to the Gospel;
help us work your purpose out.
Here, in this day’s dedication,
All we have to give, receive;
We, who cannot live without you,
We adore you! We believe!
Words: Fred Pratt Green, 1978
Music: ABBOT’S LEIGH, 87.87 D, Cyril V. Taylor, 1941
Judith Laoyan-Mosomos is the Director for Worship and Church Music at the Methodist School of Music, and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.
Picture by paul shuang/Bigstock.com