Sunday, 21 October 2007

Kim Fabricius: paddling by the shore

Our friend Kim Fabricius has often posted his hymns here at F&T. And Kim’s church in Swansea, Bethel United Reformed Church, has now published a collection of his delightful hymns. The book, Paddling by the Shore, features 51 hymns, ranging from “A Jewish Boy Named Jesus” (sung to the tune of “Incy Wincy Spider”) to the apophatic “God is the Deepest and Blackest of Holes” and the superb tribute to George Herbert, “Prayer the Church’s Fast and Feast.”

In his acknowledgments (where he also kindly mentions F&T), Kim explains the title of the collection: “Paddling by the Shore … is stolen from Isaac Newton who, reflecting on his epoch-making discoveries about the mysteries of the universe, wrote: ‘I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me’.”

This quote from Newton highlights two of the main characteristics of Kim’s hymn-writing: the sense of divine mystery, and the sense of our own childlike playfulness before the mystery of God.

Here’s a sample from the collection – “Artful Is God, Creation Is His Canvas” (sung to the tune of Som Stranden):

Artful is God, creation is his canvas
     on which he paints his cosmic masterpiece:
brushstrokes both broad and delicate in detail,
     colours and shapes composed in perfect peace.

    Artful is God, creation is his canvas
    on which he paints his cosmic masterpiece.


Zillions of stars, exploding out of nothing,
     dance for the Lord, delightful in his eye;
billions of years it takes for sketching planets,
     time to design an earth to occupy.

Dazzling the sun, and silver-soft the moonlight,
     fruitful the land, and fathomless the sea;
wondrous is life, from single cell to primate,
     awesome is death, the final mystery.

What then of man, the end of evolution,
     image divine defaced by sin and vice?
Artful is God, producing from his palette
     Adam restored: self-portrait Jesus Christ!

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