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In suffering love (hymn).

When adversity strikes, people react in different ways. Sometimes they display a range of emotions according to where they are in the grief process.

Rob Johns (1942-1986) was a United Church minister in Winnipeg. When one of his family members was diagnosed with a serious illness, he wrote the hymn text "In Suffering Love" (#696). He drew upon the words of the psalmist and the prophet Isaiah to express both his grief and his deep faith.

We often associate the word Emmanuel with the Advent and Christmas seasons, but the phrase Emmanuel or "God with us" occurs frequently in Scripture. The source of "the strength to journey on" in the midst of great suffering and sorrow is the conviction that "God's covenant stands fast." God's promise to be with us is a promise we can count on and the source of our hope even in the darkest experiences of our lives. This hymn is truly a love song, springing from a deep and profound faith in the abiding presence of God.

The tune Belmont was first published in William Gardiner's (1770-1853) Sacred Melodies. Gardiner was an assistant in his father's manufacturing company and travelled widely in Europe. An avid musician, he adapted classic works by Beethoven, Haydn and Mozart into hymn tunes. This lyrical and well-loved tune has appeared in previous editions of The Book of Praise, in 1897 and 1918, paired with a number of different texts. Its gentleness is well-suited to the quiet confidence expressed in Rob John's text.

Judee Archer Green is an associate secretary, Education for Discipleship, and a member of the task force to revise The Book of Praise.
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Author:Green, Judee A.
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Feb 1, 1998
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