Week 8: Celtic Hymns



Alas, And Did My Savior Bleed

Text: Isaac Watts (1674–1748), 1707

Tune: Traditional Scottish, 1800

  1. One of Watts’ main goals was to translate the “passion” of the Psalms in such a way that the common person could relate to it, and although it drew him much criticism, it also helped his hymns stand the test of time. What different emotions do you see present in this text? Are there any you tend to “gloss over” when thinking about Christ’s death and resurrection?
    • Some emotions include (by verse):
      • Sorrow, self-reproach
      • Guilt, wonder
      • Awe
      • Embarrassment, gratitude
      • Humility, devotion

Christ Be Beside Me

Text: Saint Patrick (387–461), ca. 430

Tune: Traditional Gaelic, 1888

  1. Despite the simple, repetitive format, there is a surprising amount of depth in the text. As a class, look at each phrase and discuss the deeper implications of each.

For the Fruit of All Creation

Text: Fred Pratt Green (1903–2000), 1970

Tune: Traditional Welsh, 1784

  1. This hymn clearly fits in the category of a “harvest hymn” (or, for Americans, a “Thanksgiving hymn”), but what can you see (if anything) that makes this hymn unique compared to similar ones?
    • Focus not just on thankfulness for what we have, but also on our responsibility to use it for good (and give it away to those who need it more)
    • Recognition of the joint role God and mankind have in life, for humans “plowing, sowing, reaping” and for God “silent growth” during the night and in the future
    • Contrast of a “just reward” (we get what we deserve) and “help we give” (so others get what they don’t deserve)
    • Incorporates some social-justice aspects (as Fred Pratt Green often does in his hymns)
    • Thanks for the spiritual gifts God provides in addition to our physical ones