Hymns & Songs

Hymns about justice and peace

Oct 2012    

Now Let Us From This Table Rise (UMH634)


Now let us from this table rise
renewed in body, mind, and soul;
with Christ we die and live again,
His selfless love has made us whole.
With minds alert, upheld by grace,
to spread the word in speech and deed,
we follow in the steps of Christ,
at one with all in hope and need.

To fill each human house with love,
it is the sacrament of care;
the work that Christ began to do
we humbly pledge ourselves to share.
Th en grant us courage, Father God,
to choose again the pilgrim way
and help us to accept with joy
the challenge of tomorrow’s day.

Words: Fred Kaan, Music: RV Williams

THE AUTHOR OF THIS HYMN, the Rev Fred Kaan, was born in the Netherlands in 1929. As a young boy, his evening prayer had a three-fold thrust: 1) that their house will not burn down, 2) that his parents will not die early, and 3) that there will be no war.

The first two petitions were “granted” but the third one was not. Kaan spent five years under the Nazi Occupation where he saw his father become the leader of the resistance movement in their neighborhood and his mother a gunrunner who sheltered a Jew and one political prisoner for two-and-a-half years. He saw this as an added risk to their daily living. His experience of the war marked in him a profound and deep concern over peace and justice.

After the war, he moved to the UK and it was there that he eventually joined the ordained ministry. During his first pastorate, a young postman, a church member, approached him and said: “I am leaving church!” Kaan asked why, and the postman replied “because the hymns don’t send me any longer!” This reply struck Kaan and he thought “if the hymns we sang in church paralysed my postman friend … then the mission of the church is seriously impaired”. This was when Kaan started to look at hymns with a critical ear.

As a minister at the Pilgrim Church in Plymouth, England he became seriously involved in exploring new ways of worship and service. He searched for hymns that “proclaimed the Gospel in the modern city in a language that can be understood”. Because he found very few he began to write hymns that spoke about justice, peace, social action and healing in broken relationships, communities and in the world.

The first hymn that he wrote was “Now Let Us From This Table Rise,” a post-communion hymn. He wrote this with the following questions in mind:

“What happens after we have shared the bread and wine at the Lord’s Table? How do we make that vital transition from worship to service, from celebration to action?”

Judith Mosomos is a Lecturer in Church Music at the Methodist School of Music.

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