This week, I have been struck by a hymn that has relevance for the present time here in Ireland. As many people reading this will be aware, there is a general election here on Friday. At such times it is good to be reminded that God is the one ultimately in control, and that those in power in government have been put there by him. As Romans 13:1 says: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
The hymn “Lord for the years” acknowledges this. The first line is “Lord for the years YOUR love has kept and guided.” The verse talks about the way that God has been with and kept his people. The verses that follow are about God’s word, the way that that applies to countries and the world, finishing with the desire that Christ would be on the throne in each of our lives. I am going to quote the whole hymn, because only then can the connection between the national and the personal be seen. Just to note, in verse 3, the prayer for “Commonwealth” is specifically for the British context. In Ireland we can sing “for this and every nation.” May that be our prayer in this election week.
Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord for the years, we bring our thanks today.
Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the word, receive your people’s praise.
Lord, for our land in this our generation,
spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care:
for young and old, for commonwealth and nation,
Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.
Lord, for our world where men disown and doubt you,
loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,
hungry and helpless, lost indeed without you:
Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.
Lord for ourselves; in living power remake us-
self on the cross, and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for the future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.