I was being snippy about 1980s hymns last week (and I don’t plan to take it back) but there were some good ones written in the 1990s. I really like this one, new to me as of yesterday, from 1994:
with a passion for discerning how the world has been designed.
Let the sense of wonder flowing from the wonders we survey
keep our faith forever growing and renew our need to pray:
God of wisdom, we acknowledge that our science and our art
and the breadth of human knowledge only partial truth impart.
Far beyond our calculation lies a depth we cannot sound
where your purpose for creation and the pulse of life are found.
May our faith redeem the blinder of believing that our thought
has displaced the grounds for wonder which the ancient prophets taught.
May our learning curb the error which unthinking faith can breed
lest we justify some terror with the antiquated creed.
As two currents in a river fight each other’s undertow
till converging they deliver one coherent steady flow,
may we blend our faith and learning till they carve a single course
and our seeking and our yearning join in praising you their source:
Praise for minds to probe the heavens, praise for strength to breathe the air,
praise for all the beauty leavens, praise for silence, music, prayer,
praise for justice and compassion and for strangers, neighbors, friends,
praise for hearts and lips to fashion, praise for love that never ends.
That’s a completely modern hymn, isn’t it? Compare it with this 1980s hymn:
Called as partners in Christ’s service, Called to ministries of grace,
We respond with deep commitment Fresh new lines of faith to trace.
May we learn the art of sharing, Side by side and friend with friend,
Equal partners in our caring To fulfill God’s chosen end.
Christ’s example, Christ’s inspiring, Christ’s clear call to work and worth,
Let us follow, never faltering, Reconciling folk on earth.
Men and women, richer, poorer, All God’s people, young and old,
Blending human skills together Gracious gifts from God unfold.
Thus new patterns for Christ’s mission, In a small or global sense,
Help us bear each other’s burdens, Breaking down each wall or fence.
Words of comfort, words of vision, Words of challenge, said with care,
Bring new power and strength for action, Make us colleagues, free and fair.
So God grant us for tomorrow Ways to order human life
That surround each person’s sorrow With a calm that conquers strife.
Make us partners in our living, Our compassion to increase,
Messengers of faith, thus giving Hope and confidence and peace.
It really isn’t that one is more current than the other, just that one is better poetry. Maybe, as Picasso said, you have to make new things ugly before you can make them beautiful.