St. Giles’ Cathedral
Holy Week 2020 Daily Devotion
Hymns for Holy Week
Tuesday 7th April 2020
Open are the gifts of God
Open are the gifts of God
gifts of love to mind and sense
hidden is love’s agony,
love’s endeavour, love’s expense
Love that gives, gives evermore,
gives with zeal, with eager hands,
spares not, keeps not, all outpours,
ventures all, its all expands.
Drained is love in making full,
bound in setting others free,
poor in making many rich,
weak in giving power to be.
Therefore he who shows us God
helpless hangs upon the tress;
and the nails and crown of thorns
tell of what God’s love must be.
Here is God: no monarch he,
throned in easy state to reign;
here is God, whose arms of love,
aching, spent, the world sustain
William Hubert Vanstone (1923-1999)
A Reflection by Rev Professor Kenneth M Boyd
‘Nothing is so beautiful as Spring’. The poets are agreed, whether they sing of the ‘host of golden daffodils’, or the ‘sticky little leaves’ on bush or tree, or the ‘blackbird hour when hedgerows thrill with song’. The longer poem from which today’s hymn comes, also sings. It begins: ‘Morning glory, starlit sky, / Leaves in springtime, swallows flight…’ These are among the ‘Open… gifts’, ‘Gifts of love to mind and sense’, with which the hymn begins by praising God. The hymn does not include viruses among these gifts, but it could well have done: viruses are essential for animal and human life to flourish: very few cause human disease, and some help scientists to devise new cures. Are they, too, among God’s ‘gifts of love’?
The author of today’s hymn writes that what genuine love, of an artist for their creation, of a parent for their child, longs for, is for their creation or their child to have a flourishing life of their own; but that this inevitably involves both the risk that things will go wrong, and infinitely patient and costly creativity in encouraging them to come right. This, he says, is what ‘God’s love must be’, if God is the kind of creator and parent that the one who ‘helpless hangs upon the tree’ taught and shows us.
Just as God brought new life from death on Easter morning, so in the midst of the present coronavirus pandemic, God is both in and with the dying soul and, in ways unimaginable to us, venturing all, in patient, costly, loving creativity: ‘here is God, whose arms of love, aching, spent, the world sustain’.
Today’s Hymn Open are the gifts of God
Father, we thank you for the wonder of Spring and the promise of Easter. When the sky is blue and all nature seems alive, your creation delights and your mystery encourages us. So, Father, when the clouds gather or we lie awake in the middle of the night, help us to remember that you are with us, your arms of love holding us, your infinite creativity bringing good out of evil, beauty for ashes, new life from death. Bless all scientists, administrators, artists and musicians who in their creativity further your loving purpose of our and nature’s flourishing, and comfort with your loving presence all those who fall ill or die tonight, in Jesus’ name. AMEN
Music for Reflection Justorum animae William Byrd (c1539/40 – 1623)