Hymn: Christian People, Raise Your Song
Colin Thompson Rejoice and Sing 435
Christian people raise your song,
Chase away all grieving;
Sing your joy, and be made strong,
Our Lord’s life receiving;
Nature’s gifts of wheat and vine
Now are set before us:
As we offer bread and wine
Christ comes to restore us.
Come to welcome Christ today,
God’s great revelation;
He has pioneered the way
Of the new creation.
Greet him, Christ our risen King
As with joy we greet the spring
Out of winter rising.
Colin Thompson wrote this, in part, to bring the focus on the offertory back into our worship. Traditionally the offertory is where money is collected for the poor and needy (not just the MoM contributions!) and the bread and wine are brought to the front. Usually in our churches the bread and wine are placed on the table before the service. The tune, Ave Virgo Virginum, is from medieval Germany and was first published in a 15th Century Bohemian collection. It seems to have been paired with an Advent hymn originally but has been paired with other hymns over the years. It was introduced to the UK in 1904 in Hymns, Ancient and Modern and was, in 1906, set in the English Hymnal to Come Ye Faithful Raise the Strain with which, probably, it is most associated.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colin Thompson wrote the words of ‘Christian people raise your song’ for the 1975 URC publication New Church Praise, with his words intended for use with the carol melody ‘Ave Virgo Virginum’ to which it is presently set in Rejoice and Sing. It was written as a hymn to be used at the time of the offertory in the communion service when the bread and wine were traditionally brought to the communion table as a visual representation of Christ’s offering of himself to the people of God, coupled with the offering of ourselves in God’s service.
Imagery in the song includes how we are made strong as we receive our Lord’s life, that “Christ comes to restore us… as we offer bread and wine”, and that Christ is “God’s great revelation” who has “pioneered the way of the new creation”.
God of renewal,
refresh and nourish our faith as we journey into your mystery.
Bring our lives into communion with you
whenever we offer the sacramental symbols
of daily life at your table.
And may the praises we sing lead your people into a deeper revelation of the truth which Jesus shared by his life, death and resurrection.
Philip Jones is an Elder at Wilbraham St Ninian’s URC in Chorlton, South Manchester.