A New Hymn: In Halls of Wealth and Power

On Sunday, July 12, thousands of churches will be hearing the gospel lectionary reading from the Gospel of Mark, 6:14-29. This is the story of King Herod killing John the Baptist because the king promised to grant the wish of a daughter who wanted to silence the prophet.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette wrote a new hymn inspired by this biblical story with implications for today. The problem of leaders misusing their power for themselves alone and hurting others is not limited to the ancient world; a recent study by Princeton and Northwest Universities' political science professors found in the USA that policies were controlled by wealthy elites:

"[W]e believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened... Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all." See Huffington Post article, "U.S. Policies Favor The Wealthy, Interest Groups, Study Shows"

May this hymn-prayer be answered by us all seeking a more just nation and world.

In Halls of Wealth and Power
LLANGLOFFAN 7.6.7.6 D ("Lead On, O King Eternal")

In halls of wealth and power
where shadowed deals are made,
The heartless ones devour;
the helpless are betrayed.
The ones who make decisions
seem confident and strong
Yet sometimes blur divisions
between the right and wrong.

When Herod chose to wander
from living as he should,
John preached with mighty thunder,
"Repent and do the good!"
Then power danced with anger;
revenge went dancing, too.
When they all join together,
what evil they will do!

O God of love and justice,
when we feel sure and strong,
May power never tempt us
to venture toward the wrong.
In all of our endeavors,
give wisdom, Lord, we pray,
That we may love our neighbors
and seek your kingdom way.

In halls of wealth and power,
in home and neighborhood,
May we reject the evil
and turn to what is good.
May justice dance with mercy
and service dance with grace;
May nations lift the lowly
till peace and love embrace.

Biblical Reference: Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:9
Tune: Traditional Welsh melody, Daniel Evans' Hymnau a Thonau (Hymns and Tunes), 1865
Alternate tune: AURELIA 7.6.7.6 D ("The Church's One Foundation") Samuel Sebastian Wesley, 1864
Text: Copyright © 2015 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com

David E. Young, Presbyterian pastor and musician, serving the First Presbyterian Church of Newton, NJ, sang a beautiful solo of this new hymn. Accompanist is The Rev. Dr. Nancy K. Young, Presbyterian pastor and musician, serving as transitional pastor for the First Presbyterian Church of Franklin, NJ.