Posts Tagged 'grace'

O for a thousand tongues … grace in the unexpected

OForAThousandTonguesToSingYesterday was a memorable one for me, culminating in a pre-arranged medical procedure at the nearby hospital. That didn’t begin until 7.30 pm, having “checked in” at 11.30 am.  Waiting has never been my strongpoint. However, as memories recede, one hopefully won’t.  I’m in theatre. The procedure is about to begin, medical people in their dark blue scrubs, facemarks etc all around me, I’m wired and tubed up all over the place, and someone (having discovered I’m a UCA minister and also musical) asks me what my favourite hymn is.  All a bit surreal, me knowing that any time I’ll be given a general anaesthetic that will put me to sleep.

Now; I have lots of favourite hymns.  Those who know me well know my worship song tastes are broad and eclectic. My charles wesleyfavourite hymn (or one of them)?  Charles Wesley’s O for a thousand tonguesoriginally 14 verses long, usually sung over about six verses these days.

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

I remember being affected to the core – exhilarated as I sang it with hundreds of others at Sydney Town Hall in 1994, with pipe organ accompaniment, at the opening of a national Uniting Church Assembly.  I remember recounting this at the conclusion of my 2007 Masters thesis.  It is such a great hymn!   Some worship songs do that to you.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, hospital procedure about to begin, no sooner have I suggested this hymn as my favourite, one … maybe two medicos around me start singing … yes … O for a thousand tongues.  How amazing! What a gift!

And that’s all I remember. Some time later, I wake up in the recovery area.   The sounds and song of this act of grace still ringing in the grogginess of my being.   Yes, the triumphs of God’s grace.  And what an act of grace.

Thank you hospital persons.  Wesley’s classic hymn continues to bless … through people just like you.



Never Let Go

A new song. holding handsIt comes as for many months, I and many others at my church have found themselves coming to grips with both realities and possibilities with Mike (not his real name), as Mike battles cancer. In and out of hospital. Multiple chemo and radiation treatment.  Extended times of debilitating pain.  Mike is a person of deep faith, who believes earnestly in the potential of prayer and that God is one who chooses (but not always, and that’s the rub) to heal.

So without fail, when I meet with Mike, we pray for God’s wholeness and healing, and entrust Mike’s future again and again to God. Increasingly folk have shared with me the challenge of not knowing quite what to say to Mike when they meet with him.  They too are people of prayer, who trust in God’s endless possibilities.  Yet, like me, they concede that Mike’s days (and we pray its years) are ultimately in God’s hands.   More and more I’ve sought in various ways to remind Mike that God is one who is faithful, who is always present, who journeys with him and his family through thick or thin and will never, ever let him go.

As these sentiments have jumped very much around, and as I walked a sunny winter’s Gold Coast beach a few days back, the phrase, “You’ll never let go” came to me … and the start of a song. While crafting Never Let Go, more and more promises of scripture – in the Psalms, the Prophets, in Wisdom literature and Christ himself; they started coming to me.  I considered basing the song on the one psalm. No, this song somehow has allusions to a great many precious verses of scripture.  I wish I could have included them all in this song.  So – here it is, with a rough backing track; my trusty digital flute providing the melody line, for what I pray is a helpful and gentle affirmation of God’s presence and faithfulness … always.  Always. Peace, David

score   lyrics  mp3 backing demo

You’ll never let go
Jesus, you hold us tight,
through darkness and night,
through gladness and light
You’ll never let go

You are our shelter
our days in your hands
Your love firm and faithful
amid shifting sands You’ll never let go …

Mountains may stumble
and hills fall to dust
Your love will not leave us
nor peace we can trust You’ll never let go …

Come, be our stillness
Be with us, come stay
We trust in your promise,
our refuge, your way
You’ll never let go
Jesus, you hold us tight,
through darkness and night,
through gladness and light
You’ll never let go (you’ll never let go)
You’ll never let go (you’ll never let go)
You’ll never let go

 David MacGregor
 © 2015 Willow Publishing
 inspired by portions of Psalm 46 & Isaiah 54



As I’ve just blogged, there’s another song … which perhaps cheekily I’m putting out there. Along with others, I’ve been invited to write a song for a special gathering of Christians here in Australia later this year.  I won’t say any more about this right now.

There’s something about the imagery and meaning of Christian baptism; the reality that in this sacrament, we die to Christ, before rising (literally/spiritually) with Christ through the waters of baptism … renewed in God through Jesus Christ; gifted and empowered by the Spirit.

For me, through our continual engagement, in baptism, with Christ’s dying and rising that we journey deeper into the life of Christ; into God’s story.  As we do, we find our story … individually and as commissioned, gifted community in Christ. In our baptism, we are thus called and commissioned as disciples of Christ – to celebrate, sorrow, rejoice, serve, learn, seek justice and build community.  And that’s just a start.  Here’s the song.  Dale and I have put together a vocal demo … admittedly a bit dodgy here and there.  I hope you’ll look beyond (dare I say, deeper than) that.

There’s potential for a bit of an echo thing happening through all but the last line of the refrain.  That could work well … male/female,, alternating halves of congregation. song leader/congregation.

Grace and peace,

music score
mp3 vocal[G]

journey deeper

  1. In the seeking is the finding
    In the learning we all gain
    In the living is the growing
    by your grace like morning rain
    In our gathering is Spirit
    In our sorrow we all pain
    In our worship we will hear your voice
    the call to life again
    So we journey
    Journey deeper
    Join your story
    Find your life
    God of loving
    God of promise
    We find our story
    Shine your light
  2. Working arm-in-arm for justice
    Finding Christ there in the least
    There with God’s refreshing Spirit
    sharing faith and life and peace..

As community in Jesus
may we  journey as God calls
Through the wellspring of your mercy deep
We’ll rise as first we fall

So we journey …

David MacGregor
© 2014 Willow Publishing
* alternative: “We find our stories”

irish blessing

irish-blessing-horizontal-carol-saboHi!  I’ve written a new musical setting to the much-loved Irish Blessing.
music score
mp3 backing

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again (until we meet again),
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

The tune and feel just ‘came’. Why?  Perhaps it’s because I’m doing some soul-preparation to say my goodbyes and move on in a few months from the Oxley community in which we’ve ministered these past four years. I’m so happy with the ‘feel’ I’ve managed for the song. Lots of interesting chords and sequences … as it’s turned out.

In time, Dale and I will arrange a vocal track.  For now the backing track contains a French Horn playing the melody.
It probably works well with a soloist or small ensemble singing it first time through; then all who are gathered singing it as a blessing to each other.

I pray it finds some use.
[note: if you do and have a CCLI Licence, please acknowledge and record accordingly, music © David MacGregor 2013]




Power-of-His-PresenceWell, a first for me.

I’ve finally – 10 years after first writing it – done music score for a piano piece called Presence. Thanks Peter Nelson (a songwrite attendee back in February) for the motivation for doing so.  Score and recording are attached.  They probably don’t exactly match up, but that doesn’t matter.

I recall the song just ‘coming’ around the time of writing a worship song: That the world might know you.  We used that one at a Uniting Church Queensland synod.

With Presence, I recall a moment when I was struck by the graced life of God with me – I wanted to bask it in – abide in this love forever.  I hope the song conveys something of that to you.


piano score


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