A new hymn for Saint Georges

In the summer of 2015 a generous gift was given to Saint George’s by a parishioner to commission a new hymn text and tune to celebrate the rededication of our Nave and the ministry of the people in this place.
Through several conversations with the donor and our Rector Shearon Williams, we determined it would be appropriate to commission a text based on the Baptismal Covenant found in our Book of Common Prayer.  After making a list of several excellent hymn writers and studying their work, we commissioned Minneapolis-based poet Susan Cherwien to write a text for Saint George’s.  Likewise, we selected a composer to write a new hymn tune for Susan’s text.  Frank Boles, former Minister of Music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Indianpolis was selected to write a tune to our new text as well as a festival arrangement for use at our rededication and other festive times.
The following, All Embracing God, with its tune, Virginia Square, were written for you, the people of Saint George's.  This Sunday you will hear the choir sing our new hymn during Communion, and the following Sunday you will get to sing it for the first time.  In commissioning a new hymn, we wanted a text and tune that would become part of us and be something that we used regularly, throughout the life of this congregation.  We also wanted to commission something by an excellent poet/hymnwriter and composer.  We hope this new hymn will not be just a gift to this community at St. George’s, but one to the greater church.
Over the next few weeks you will hear about poet Susan Cherwien and her creation of this hymn text, as well as from Frank Boles about the writing of this hymn tune and festival arrangement.
Our hope and prayer for St. George’s is that this hymn becomes a symbol of who we are and what we do.  That in 20 – 50 - 100 years we -  and many others -  still sing it to boldly proclaim God's all-embracing love. 

All-Embracing God

All-embracing God,
Builder of all worlds,
In your house your people rise to praise;
By your Holy Name
Signed and marked and sealed,
May our hearts become your dwelling place.
All-embracing Christ,
Servant of all worlds,
Humbly seeking out the last and least,
By your Holy Love
Signed and marked and sealed,
May we strive for justice and for peace.
All-embracing Fire,
Spirit of all worlds,
Prodding all God's people to evolve,
By your Holy Gifts
Signed and marked and sealed,
May we seek and serve all that you love.
All-embracing Church,
Gathered from all worlds,
Temple of the Fire, the Love, the Name,
By the font and meal
Signed and marked and sealed,
May we in fair lives God's grace proclaim.
All-embracing God,
Trinity of Love,
Dwell within us now, do not delay;
Make your church alive
With your very Life
In the Now that does not pass away.
Susan Palo Cherwien
March 3, 2016 trochaic
Copyright©2016 Susan Palo Cherwien
Commissioned by St. George's Episcopal Church, Arlington, Virginia
for the rededication of the church sanctuary 2016

READ PART 2 (Text)

READ PART 3 (Tune)