The following are new verses to familiar tunes, most often new verses to existing hymns. More and more I find myself wanting to sing the first verse or so of the original text and then transition to a "modern" version. New verses are posted on my blog at in the hymn file (What Wondrous Love, Just As I Am, etc) and others are posted below:

What a Friend We Have
First verse by Joseph Scriven is followed by two additional verses which speak to the promises of Scriven's text while appealing to the imagery of the trinity.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.

Ancient Wisdom, timeless wonder
Truth revealed the world around
Though we search through texts and teachings
In the my'stry you are found
We can choose to limit vision
We can choose to walk weighed down
Ours a finitude of choosing
Yours a sacred truth unbound

Sacred presence now a'lighting
Now illumine paths of peace
Healing balm the Spirit offers
When our surety we release
While we cling to our assumptions
While we cling to our dis'ease
Breath of God upends our balance
May we now embrace the breeze.

"Amazing Grace"
These verses were written to use interspersed with John Newton's and were originally published in the UCC's "Worship Ways" (Ash Wednesday, 2007).

Amazing grace! Our vision be.
We are a people bound -
Blind to our greed, afraid to see
The warnings all around.

Together now, we humbly bow
To live with love's command;
Care for the earth, God's justice show,
A moral ground demand.

"A Mighty Fortress is our God"
This historic hymn by Martin Luther is said to be a paraphrase of Psalm 59. This new paraphrase of Psalm 59 is intended to follow the historic first verse of Luther's hymn.

Come now to witness heav'nly pow'r
Come see the Spirit winging!
Our human plans wilt as the flow'r,
God's justice now unfolding.

Break now the weapons' bow,
Transform our spears also.
Watch apathy now cease
As all the earth learns peace.
Watch Wisdom birth'd a-mong us.

"Blessed be the Tie that Binds"
The first verse is the traditional opening verse written by John Fawcett. Verses 2, 3, and 4 were written to reflect the Vision, Mission, and Values of Evangelical United Church of Christ. Donita Bauer, our Music Director, put it to a 4/4 rhythm (jazzing it up a bit!).

Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.

We hear the call to love
In Jesus' life observed
To-get-her form com-mun-i-ty
To wor-ship, learn, and serve.

We share each other's woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

To lead, we pray for grace,
but not for our own fame.
May our embrace exceed this space -
Still spea-king God pro-claim.

"Christ the Lord is Risen Today"
Beginning with the traditional opening from Charles Wesley, this moves into a progressive Christian expression of resurrection.

Christ the Lord is risen today - Alleluia!
Mortal tongues and angels say: - Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high - Alleluia!
sing glad heaven's and earth reply - Alleluia!

Vain the answers, scattered 'round - Alleluia!
Wisdom wrapped in mys-t'ries shroud - Alleluia!
Arts and science glimpses show - Alleluia!
Only partial truth to know - Alleluia!

Rise all creatures praise to sing - Alleluia!
Tombs and tulips witness bring - Alleluia!
Seeds once dormant now arise - Alleluia!
Death has opened doors for life - Alleluia!

Soar we now where love has led - Alleluia!
Fol-l'wing our beloved friend - Alleluia!
One in Christ, our spirits rise - Alleluia!
Ours the cross the grave the skies - Alleluia!

"Jesu, Jesu" - tune: Chereponi This Ghanain tune is #498 in the New Century Hymnal and has three verses. I've added this one:

Neighbors are oft'n unseen
Voices too weak now to hear
Move our compassion beyond - our ease. (refrain)

"Jesus Loves Me"
These verses are intended to follow the traditional first verse.

Jesus loves me, loves you too
Love that gives us much to do.
Hear the stories that he told,
May our work for him be bold.
Yes, Jesus loves you! Yes, Jesus loves you!
Yes, Jesus loves you! The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me, loves us all.
Challenging the rules and laws.
Showed his love as he took sides,
Always doors that opened wide.
Yes, Jesus loves us! Yes, Jesus loves us!
Yes, Jesus loves us! The Bible tells me so.

"Thine is the Glory"
Early on in ministry a musician told me that this is a defining hymn for Easter. As with all Easter hymns, the challenge is finding words and metaphors that move us into the depth of mystery.

Lo! Christ is with us, risen from the tomb;
Love for one another, conquers hopeless doom;
Let the church with gladness, hymns of joy now sing;
For with Christ arisen, death hath lost its sting.
Yours is the glory, risen shining One
Endless now the vict'ry, You o'er evil won.

Gathered together, empty tomb proclaim,
Sacred space not tethered, credo we would name,
Still we find we're haunted, questions we can't hide.
Inquiry undaunted, greater truth abides.
Yours is the glory, hidden in the bud,
Beautiful your story, calling us to love.

"Who Would Think that What was Needed"
This is a beautiful Christmas hymn from the Iona Community. I added this verse in hopes of moving this challenging text (and haunting music!) beyond the limited season.

When we follow in his footsteps
learn to seek and find the lost
Learn a wisdom beyond seeing
truth which bears a heavy cost.
When we follow in his footsteps
in our weakness strength display
God surprises earth with heaven
now alive with us today.

"Once in Royal David's City"
I was trying to find verses to affirm the power of the political message of Jesus' birth stories, particular the Luke story.  This text was inspired by Borg and Crossan's "The First Christmas".  Follow the traditional first verse with these three:

Days before the birth of Jesus
Two new mothers shared a song.
Song of hope recalling Moses,
Song of challenge to the strong.
“Now our hope has been restored.
Now we worship and adore.”

At the cusp of new beginnings,
With a birth poised to inspire,
Caesar calls the world together
Flex the weapons of empire.
Nations grasp for fleeting power,
Yet a child upends the hour.

Now the star appeared to shepherds,
from the darkness shone a sun.
From the fields the angel clamored,
“From the lowly comes the one!”
Not to kingdoms look for wings,
Bathed in light now see our king.
(or: Look below where justice rings.)