Sunday, October 14, 2012

A hymn on food and eating

Back in May, I took a course on "Theology and the Politics of Food," one of the May term offerings at Union (May term, like January term, is a three-week course often given to electives of the professor's particular interest).  Towards the end of that course a hymn started to develop itself in my brain; I got it down in electronic form, tweaked it a time or two, and left it for a time.  I've come back a time or two, and I think I mostly changed some things back and forth without making too many changes.

Those who are part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) may have gotten a note in your bulletins this morning (or you may not; my church did not) about Food Week of Action and World Food Day. This extends through this week, with World Food Day on Tuesday.  You can follow the link to get some of the emphases this particular denomination is offering for this particular observance.

At any rate, it seemed like an o.k. time to put that hymn out there and see what anyone makes of it.  I don't necessarily claim it to be finished (English teachers will red-ink the last stanza, I'm sure), but I think it's at least coherent and hits a few of the themes that stayed with me from that class.  Some suggested hymn tunes are included at the end of the hymn.  Make of it what you will.

When we gather at the table
            Eating what is true and real,
Fellowship with all God’s people
            Makes the blessing for the meal.
Love for Christ and one another
            Makes the feast a sign and seal.
            (Makes the feast a sign and seal.)

Let us not forsake the workers
            Who put food upon our plates,
Those who toil at grueling labor
            Yet for whom no justice waits;
May we strive that they see mercy,
            Not be callous to their fates.

As we dine on all God’s bounty,
            Meats and grains and fruits God sows,
Never let us take for granted
            Everything that in Christ grows,
Creatures all of God’s own making
            And whose every breath God knows.

Teach us, Lord, to eat with conscience,
            Knowing that in Your good will
What we eat and who we eat with
            With Your blessing You will fill;
Nourish us to feed each other
            All with good and not for ill.

Possible tunes:
CWM RHONDDA (“God of grace and God of glory,” PH #420; the repeated final line as shown in the first stanza would come into play here)
TRINITY (“God is One, unique and holy,” PH #135; I particularly like the fit of this one)
REGENT SQUARE (PH #22 or 417)

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