“Lord, Come to Us like Rain from Heaven”Mark Alan Filbert, Hymnology Consultant
This month we continue our 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 will often be thematically appropriate for a particular season of the church year or it may be related to a more general theme about the church’s mission in contemporary society. 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. Additional hymns will occasionally be suggested for a particular Sunday in the church year or for annual commemorations, such as the liturgies of Holy Week; such hymns may only be appropriate on the designated day, or they might be used as a Hymn of the Month in anticipation of or in response to the particular day observed on the church calendar.
The Hymn of the Month for May 2022 might more aptly be considered a Hymn of the Season for Late Easter, specifically intended for introduction on the Fourth Sunday of Easter and sung every Sunday through Easter 7. On those four Sundays, the appointed Second Readings are from the Book of Revelation, and each reading contains a reference to “the water of life” (Revelation 7.17, 21.6, 22.1, and 22.17), which, in turn, is the main theme of the hymn for late Easter in 2022: Lord, Come to Us like Rain from Heaven, a text by Gracia Grindal (b. 1943) set to a Calvin Hampton (1938-1984) tune, the flowing melody for which complements the “water” imagery throughout the text. As noted by the composer, the hymn should be sung in unison until dividing into harmony at the words, “fresh living water,” which conclude each stanza.
Grindal is a poet, author, translator, and educator, who studied at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She taught at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, for sixteen years before being before joining the faculty of Luther Theological Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1984. Upon her retirement in 2013, she was named Professor Emerita of Rhetoric. Hampton, once dubbed by Erik Routley as “the greatest living composer of hymn tunes,” studied organ at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio and at Syracuse University in New York. He served for twenty years as organist and choirmaster at Calvary Episcopal Church, Gramercy Park, in New York City and was a prolific and eclectic composer of music for both the church and concert hall.