While hiking 200 miles along the John Muir Trail in July and August in 2021, I took time each week to write new lyrics to three of my favorite traditional hymns. Because these hymn lyrics were written while hiking in the wilderness of the high Sierras in California, they are filled with images of hiking in the backcountry. One of the most frequent Bible metaphors for the spiritual life is walking along a journey together with others. Here then are three hymns, with new lyrics I’ve composed to be sung to traditional hymn tunes.
Day by Day, We Follow You Lord Jesus
Lyrics: David Robinson, 2021; Music: Blott en Dag, Oscar Ahnfelt (1872); Original Hymn Title: Day by Day and With Each Passing Moment
Step by step, we journey with you Father, Through this world created by your hands, In your goodness, lead us by your Spirit, Ever onward toward the promised Land. Keep our feet from faltering or stumbling, Lift our spirits with your presence, Lord, When we're weary, guide us to still waters, In green pastures, feed us in Your Word. Day by day, we follow you Lord Jesus, Guide our steps along your path of peace, By the Father's love and tender mercies, Shine upon with your dawning grace. From the cross you prayed for our forgiveness, Come forgive us of our sins, we pray, Lead us onward with your lovingkindness, You who are the life, the truth, the way. Week by week we ask you Holy Spirit, Come and fill us as we're drawing near, Walk beside us, teach us, and provide us, With your love, your comfort, and your cheer. As on Pentecost with wind and fire, Breathe upon us with your love and power, Send us out into the world around us, Strengthened by your presence in this hour. Year by year, O Father, Son, and Spirit, Guide and lead us through the wilderness, Through the valleys and into the mountains, Walking by your love and faithfulness. Lord please teach us how to love each other, Sisters, brothers walking hand in hand, Reaching out with tenderness and mercy, Living by the love of your command.
By Streams of Clear Water
Lyrics: David Robinson, 2021; Music: St. Denio (traditional Welsh tune); Original Title: Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise
By streams of clear water, In mountains of light, Through your good creation, We walk with delight, Your goodness and mercy, We praise and adore, Protect and surround us, Behind and before. The clouds in the heavens, The flowers of earth, All tell of your glory, With gladness and mirth. When you first created, The stars high above, They sang of your power, And infinite love. Like flowers in the meadow, We all pass away, Restore us dear God As we worship and pray, Though outwardly wasting away All our days, Our lives are renewed inwardly by your grace.
Come Dear Father, Our Creator
Lyrics: David Robinson, 2021 Music: Nettleton; Original Hymn Title: Come Thou Fount
Come dear Father, our Creator, Fill us with the breath of life. Recreate our lives anew, though We are stained with sin and strife. Lord have mercy on your children, Fallen from the heights of love, Come restore us to your presence, Through your tenderness and love. Come Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, By your truth now set us free, As you called to John and Peter On the shores of Galilee; Send us out with your commission, Filled with songs of love and grace, Guide our steps along your good path, In this time and in this place. Come Sustainer, Holy Spirit, Fan the flame of our first love, Walk beside us and please guide us, Into wisdom from above. Like the wind upon the water, Of a clear, blue alpine lake, Breathe God's breath of life upon us, Never leave us nor forsake.