Hymns & Songs

God is our refuge

Sep 2018    

Saranam” means refuge. It comes from Sanskrit, an ancient language that is no longer spoken, but from which many words in India are derived.1 It is a word that expresses a deep reverence for God—God is our refuge.

Saranam, Saranam” is one of the Asian hymns found in The United Methodist Hymnal (UMH). While the hymnal committee made efforts to incorporate Asian hymns, it expressed disappointment that the hymns do not carry their distinctive charm. “Saranam, Saranam”, for example, does not have the traditional embellishments characteristic of Indian hymns.2

If you are from an English-speaking church, does your congregational repertoire include songs that are not from the West?

In a world where racism is becoming increasingly pronounced, singing songs from around the globe may help remind us that the Body of Christ is “red and yellow, black and white”. Singing non-Western songs during worship services may challenge our comfort zone but will keep us in solidarity with the people from where the songs come.

If you observe World Communion Sunday on 7 Oct 2018, consider choosing a song or two from the global song collection in the UMH. For example: UMH 149, 478, 552 or 678 as a gathering hymn; 615, 633 or 637 for Holy Communion; or 497 or 583 as a sending hymn.

These hymns may be unfamiliar. But as you sing, listen to the voices of the people from where the hymns come. Sing unto the Lord a new song!

SARANAM, SARANAM (United Methodist Hymnal, #523)

Refrain:
Jesus, Saviour, Lord, lo to thee I fly
Saranam, Saranam, Saranam;
thou the Rock, my refuge that’s higher than I:
Saranam, Saranam, Saranam.

  1. In the midst of foes I cry to thee,
    from the ends of earth wherever I may be;
    my strength in helplessness, O answer me:
    Saranam, Saranam, Saranam.
  2. In thy tent give me a dwelling place,
    and beneath thy wings may I find sheltering grace;
    O lift on me the sunshine of thy face:
    Saranam, Saranam, Saranam.
  3. O that I my vows to thee may pay,
    and that by thy faithfulness to me each day
    may live, and on thy love my burdens lay:
    Saranam, Saranam, Saranam.
  4. Yesterday, today, fore’er the same,
    lo, the heritage of all who bear thy name
    to ransom them from sin the Saviour came:
    Saranam, Saranam, Saranam.

Text: Trad. Pakistani; trans. D.T. Niles, 1963 (Ps 61; Heb 13:8)
Music: Trad. Punjabi melody; arr. by Shanti Rasanayagam, 1962
Tune: PUNJABI


1 Lim Swee Hong, “Regional Perspectives: An Introduction to Asian Hymnody,” in New Songs of Celebration Render, ed. C. Michael Hawn (Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, Inc.), 292-93.

2 Carlton Young, Companion to The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press), 36.

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 dabldy/Bigstock.com

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