Hear Us Now, We Come ConfessingMark Alan Filbert, Hymnology Consultant
This month we continue our new Hymn of the Month series in which one or more hymns drawn from collections published by Wayne Leupold Editions will be posted on the opening page of the website for consideration by pastors and musicians who may wish to introduce the hymn to their congregations the following month. The Hymn of the Month may be particularly appropriate for a given Sunday during the month, but often will also be thematically relevant for every Sunday during the month or season. Thus pastors and/or musicians may wish to have the choir introduce the hymn on the first Sunday of the month or season and then invite the congregation to join with the choir in singing the hymn on each of the remaining Sundays.
The Hymn of the Month for March features both a text and tune by women, thus making it most appropriate for Woman Composer Sunday. That special event is being observed by the American Guild of Organists, the Society of Women Organists, and the Royal College of Organists on 6 March 2022, the Sunday closest to International Women’s Day, which has been commemorated on 8 March for more than a century now. While organists are being encouraged to play works by women composers on that Sunday, congregations could also celebrate the day by singing hymns by women in order to highlight the significance of their contributions to the field of hymnody over the centuries. (For more information, see p. 54 in the January 2022 issue of The American Organist.)
In addition, the Hymn of the Month for March might more aptly be considered a Hymn of the Season for Lent, given its suitability for all five Sundays in Lent, the fifth Sunday of which is actually in April this year. The hymn for Lent in 2022 is Hear Us Now, We Come Confessing, a text by Edith Sinclair Downing (1922-2016), set to the tune, KYRIE ELEISON, by Amanda Husburg (1940-2021). With a three-fold Greek Kyrie eleison interpolated into the English text of each stanza, this hymn could certainly be sung in place of a traditional Kyrie in the Lenten liturgy.
Downing was a remarkable woman, holding degrees in cello performance, religious education, and theological studies with a concentration on worship. She began writing hymns in her late sixties and ultimately completed four collections of hymn texts, three of which were published by Wayne Leupold Editions, two in 2009, namely, Through Joy and Sorrow and Sing Praise for Faithful Women, followed by For Us, God’s People Now in 2011. Husberg studied organ at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, and early childhood education at Hunter College in New York City. She served for some five decades as Director of Music for Saint John the Evangelist Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York, and worked for thirty-six years as an Educational Director in New York City’s publicly-funded day care system. Three collections of her delightful hymn tunes have been published by Wayne Leupold Editions: When You Pass Through the Waters (2005), A Treasury of Faith—Lectionary Hymns, New Testament, Series B (2012), and A Treasury of Faith—Lectionary Hymns, Old Testament, Series.