God, you see your pleas for justice,
swamped by inhumanity,
overwhelmed by cheap indifference,
still allowing slavery.
With such evil years behind us,
how can we escape the blame,
when your children, in your image,
still bear cruelty and shame?
Husbands, wives and little children,
separated, in despair,
serve as slaves, to meet the comforts
of the rich who never care.
Innocent and orphaned children,
are abused and brutalised,
forced to fight in ruthless conflict,
robbed of childhood, terrorised.
Girls and women are exploited,
bought and sold, despised and shamed;
others, hungry and in danger,
are defrauded and then blamed:
friendless in a foreign country,
homeless, hounded and misused,
where they hoped to find a welcome
hope and safety are refused.
God, forgive us, teach us mercy,
make us feel the hopelessness
of the brutally exploited,
in their grief and helplessness.
Judge us, God, till every nation
puts an end to slavery,
till you see, in peace and justice,
every living soul set free.
20 March 2007
Alan Gaunt ©2007 Stainer & Bell Ltd
It being the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave
trade in the British Empire, one felt compelled to approach
the difficult theme of slavery: remembering that the abolition
of the trade did not then abolish slavery, and particularly
realising that slavery is still a reality, even in our own
country. So, one could not write a happy hymn on the theme.
Human beings, bought or bartered
kept apart by race or creed,
chained by culture or religion,
when, O God, can we be freed?
God we need your rich compassion.
Spirit, fire your love on earth,
bringing mercy to our judgments,
recognising human worth.
Help us, God, to love each neighbour,
building through each law and act
justice in our legislation,
changing mercy into fact.
Take away the bonds that bind us
then, in hope of liberty,
we will work and strive for freedom
and for human dignity.
© Andrew Pratt 10/3/2007
Suggested Tune: Stuttgart
A body, broken on a cross,
with watching women's helpless grief,
and men in heedless, headlong flight,
through fear, despair or disbelief -
in this, though still we find it strange,
are life, and hope, and power to change.
A people weaponless and weak,
not many wealthy, great or wise,
but women, labourers and slaves,
absurd to Greek and Roman eyes,
their Caesar's rages could forgive,
out-die, out-suffer, and out-live.
And still today, abroad, at home,
from suburb or from shanty-town,
the Spirit's new, surprising word,
in ours or other faiths, or none,
our sad routines will disarrange
with gospel-hope of power to change.
When disillusion chains our feet
and might and money turn to dust,
when exile, desert, or defeat
have left us nothing else to trust,
at last our spirit understands
the strength of peaceful, nail-scarred hands.
A nation drifting in decline
can turn to just and loving ways,
and people empty, bruised, ashamed,
can find rebirth to joy and praise,
and churches, wakened, can exchange
a huddled death for power to change.
Brian Wren (born 1936)
© 1989 Stainer & Bell Ltd
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