When wilt thou save the people?

Posted 12 September 2010 by

Several events collided this weekend:

  • The ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC (with the crash of the hijacked plane in Pennsylvania).
  • Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, which begins with a call to repentance.
  • Eid ul-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of prayer and fasting.

There are words for a hymn that are found in several versions of the hymnal of the Episcopal Church, including the Hymnal 1940 which could apply to all three. They were written by Ebenezer Elliot in 1850—before the War Between the States.

When wilt thou save the people? O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people,
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of thy heart, O God, are they;
let them not pass like weeds away
Their heritage a sunless day
God save the people

Shall crime bring crime forever,
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it thy will, O Father,
that men shall toil for wrong?
No, say thy mountains; No, say thy skies;
man’s clouded sun shall brightly rise,
and songs be heard, instead of sighs,
God save the people!

When wilt thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people!
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
God save the people; thine they are,
thy children as thy angels fair;
from vice, oppression and despair, God save the people!

Here is a modern setting of those words.

Godspell, “When Wilt Thou Save the People”

I am wondering if you can substitute a vuvuzela for a shofar?

Godspell, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord”

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