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The Calm of Paradise (2002)

This spare and profoundly moving CD features Christopher Miner singing, and often accompanying himself on guitar, great hymns, mostly from the 19th Century.  The style is so unaffected, heartfelt, and earnest that the texts (all of which I was able to find on-line and which are reprinted below) really stand out and Mr. Miner's easygoing delivery allows time to savor every line.

The disc is so personal one would not presume to say why Mr. Miner chose these specific songs, others than that they are terrific, but what I found most appealing is the abiding sense of humility that unifies them.  Perhaps the reason that he had to go back to the mid-1800s to find such songs is that we've forgotten the invaluable quality of submission that they embody.

No year in recent memory has given us greater cause to be humble and thankful, despairing but hopeful, than did 2001, when on one single day we saw Man at his inexplicable worst and his awe-inspiring best.  Many of us have paused in the wake of that day, maybe for the first time, to wonder seriously about our place in the Universe and to question the purpose of our lives.  This year I've been reading the classic daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, not for any specifically holy purpose, but just to have a portion of each day that is set aside for thoughts of things that are clearly beyond our ken.  The Calm of Paradise functions in much the same way; it may speak most directly to devout Christian's, but the messages it conveys and Mr. Miner's soulful way of conveying them make us set aside, at least briefly, our unworthy pride and consider the possibilities of a glory yet to come, but far beyond our control.

It's quite a beautiful disc, one that is especially well suited to our more contemplative mood in recent months.  It is old-fashioned in the very best sense of the word, in that it is a helpful antidote to the hubris of the age.  I look forward to listening to frequently.


For all the saints  (William W. How,  1864)

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles' glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o'er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor's crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Who is this, so weak and helpless  (William Walsham How, 1867)

Who is this so weak and helpless,
Child of lowly Hebrew maid,
rudely in a stable sheltered,
coldly in a manger laid?
'Tis the Lord of all creation,
who this wondrous path hath trod;
he is God from everlasting,
and to everlasting God.

Who is this, a Man of sorrows,
walking sadly life's hard way,
homeless, weary, sighing, weeping,
over sin and Satan's sway?
'Tis our God, our glorious Savior,
who above the starry sky
now for us a place prepareth,
where no tear can dim the eye.

Who is this? Behold him raining
drops of blood upon the ground!
Who is this, despised, rejected,
mocked, insulted, beaten, bound?
'Tis our God, who gifts and graces
on his Church now poureth down;
who shall smite in holy vengeance
all his foes beneath his throne.

Who is this that hangeth dying
with the thieves on either side?
Nails his hands and feet are tearing,
and spear hath pierced his side.
'Tis the God who ever liveth,
'mid the shining ones on high,
in the glorious golden city,
reigning everlastingly.

Ten thousand times ten thousand (Henry Alford, 1867)

Ten thousand times ten thousand in sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints throng up the steeps of light;
'Tis finished, all is finished, their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates, and let the victors in.

What rush of alleluias fills all the earth and sky!
What ringing of a thousand harps bespeaks the triumph nigh!
O day, for which creation and all its tribes were made;
O joy, for all its former woes a thousandfold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings on Canaan's happy shore;
What knitting severed friendships up, where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle, that brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless, nor widows desolate.

Bring near Thy great salvation, Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of Thine elect, then take Thy power, and reign;
Appear, Desire of nations, Thine exiles long for home;
Show in the heaven Thy promised sign; Thou Prince and Savior, come.

Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd (Jane Eliza Leeson, 1845)

Gracious Savior, gentle Shepherd,
Our little ones are dear to Thee;
Gathered with Thine arms and carried
In Thy bosom may they be
Sweetly, gently, safely tended,
From all want and danger free.

Tender Shepherd, never leave them
From Thy fold to go astray;
By Thy look of love directed,
May they walk the narrow way;
Thus direct them, and protect them,
Lest they fall an easy prey.

Let Thy holy Word instruct them:
Fill their minds with heav'nly light;
Let Thy love and grace constrain them,
To approve whate'er is right,
Take Thine easy yoke and wear it,
And to prove Thy burden light.

Cleanse their hearts from sinful folly
In the stream Thy love supplied;
Mingled streams of blood and water
Flowing from Thy wounded side;
And to heav'nly pastures lead them,
Where Thine own still waters glide.

I Am Jesus; Little Lamb (Henrietta L. von Hayn, 1724-1782)

I am Jesus' little lamb,
Ever glad at heart I am;
For my Shepherd gently guides me,
Knows my need, and well provides me,
Loves me every day the same,
Even calls me by my name.

Day by day, at home, away,
Jesus is my Staff and Stay.
When I hunger, Jesus feeds me,
Into pleasant pastures leads me;
When I thirst, He bids me go
Where the quiet waters flow.

Who so happy as I am,
Even now the Shepherd's lamb?
And when my short life is ended,
By His angel host attended,
He shall fold me to His breast,
There within His arms to rest.

God, be merciful to me(Richard Redhead, 1853)

God, be merciful to me,
On Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.

My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just,
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.

I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.

Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.

Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation's joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.

Sinners then shall learn from me
And return, O God, to Thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord.

O Love that wilt not let me go (George Matheson, 1882)

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Jesus, with Thy Church abide (Thomas Benson Pollock, 1871)

Jesus, with Thy Church abide,
Be her Savior, Lord, and Guide,
While on earth her faith is tried:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

Keep her life and doctrine pure,
Help her, patient, to endure,
Trusting in Thy promise sure:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

All her fettered powers release
Bid our strife and envy cease,
Grant the heav'nly gift of peace:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

May she one in doctrine be,
One in truth and charity,
Winning all to faith in Thee:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

May she guide the poor and blind,
Seek the lost until she find,
And the broken hearted bind:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

May her priests Thy people feed,
Shepherds of the flock indeed,
Ready, where Thou call'st, to lead:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

Judge her not for work undone,
Judge her not for fields unwon,
Bless her works in Thee begun:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

All that she has lost, restore,
May her strength and zeal be more
Than in brightest days of yore:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

Raise her to her calling high,
Let the nations far and nigh
Hear Thy heralds' warning cry:
We beseech Thee, hear us.

May she holy triumphs win,
Overthrow the hosts of sin,
Gather all the nations in,
We beseech Thee, hear us.

O day of rest and gladness (Christopher Wordsworth, 1862)

O day of rest and gladness, of day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright:
On Thee, the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,
Sing holy, holy, holy, to the great God Triune.

On Thee, at the creation, the light first had its birth;
On Thee, for our salvation, Christ rose from depths of earth;
On Thee, our Lord, victorious, the Spirit sent from heaven,
And thus on Thee, most glorious, a triple light was given.

Thou art a port protected from storms that round us rise;
A garden intersected with streams of paradise;
Thou art a cooling fountain in life's dry dreary sand;
From Thee, like Pisgah's mountain, we view our promised land.

Thou art a holy ladder, where angels go and come;
Each Sunday finds us gladder, nearer to heaven, our home;
A day of sweet refection, thou art a day of love,
A day of resurrection from earth to things above.

Today on weary nations the heavenly manna falls;
To holy convocations the silver trumpet calls,
Where Gospel light is glowing with pure and radiant beams,
And living water flowing, with soul refreshing streams.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest,
We reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blessed.
To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son;
The church her voice upraises to Thee, blessed Three in One.

Beneath the cross of Jesus (Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1868)

Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand,
 The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land;
 A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
 From the burning of the noontide heat, and the burden of the day.

 O safe and happy shelter, O refuge tried and sweet,
 O trysting place where Heaven's love and Heaven's justice meet!
 As to the holy patriarch that wondrous dream was given,
 So seems my Savior’s cross to me, a ladder up to heaven.

 There lies beneath its shadow but on the further side
 The darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide
 And there between us stands the cross two arms outstretched to save
 A watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave.

 Upon that cross of Jesus mine eye at times can see
 The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me;
 And from my stricken heart with tears two wonders I confess;
 The wonders of redeeming love and my unworthiness.

 I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
 I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
 Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
 My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.

Psalm 130 (Martin Luther, 1523)

From the depths of woe I raise to Thee the voice of lamentation.
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me and hear my supplication.
If Thou iniquities dost mark our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O, who shall stand before Thee? (echo) x2

To wash away the crimson stain, grace, grace alone availeth.
Our works, alas, are all in vain; in much the best life faileth.
No man can glory in Thy sight; all must alike confess Thy might
And live alone by mercy. (echo) x2

Therefore my trust is in the Lord, and not in my own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His word upholds my fainting Spirit.
His promised mercy is my fort, my comfort and my sweet support.
I wait for it with patience. (echo) x2

What though I wait the live-long night, and till the dawn appeareth.
My heart still trusteth in His might; it doubteth not, nor feareth.
Do thus, O ye of Israel's seed, ye of the Spirit born indeed.
And wait 'till God appeareth. (echo) x2

Though great our sins and sore our woes His grace much more aboundeth
His helping love no limit knows, our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd, good and true is He, who will at last His Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow (echo) x3

A Child of the King (Harriet Eugenia Peck Buell, 1877)

My Father is rich in houses and lands,
He holdeth the wealth of the world in His hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold,
His coffers are full, He has riches untold.

I'm a child of the King,
A child of the King:
With Jesus my Savior,
I'm a child of the King.

My Father's own Son, the Savior of men,
Once wandered on earth as the poorest of them;
But now He is pleading our pardon on high,
That we may be His when He comes by and by.


I once was an outcast stranger on earth,
A sinner by choice, an alien by birth,
But I've been adopted, my name's written down,
An heir to a mansion, a robe and a crown.


A tent or a cottage, why should I care?
They're building a palace for me over there;
Though exiled from home, yet still may I sing:
All glory to God, I'm a child of the King.


On Jordan's stormy banks (Samuel Stennett, 1787)

On Jordan's stormy banks I stand,
And cast a wishful eye
To Canaan's fair and happy land,
Where my possessions lie.

I am bound for the promised land,
I am bound for the promised land;
Oh who will come and go with me?
I am bound for the promised land.

O'er all those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away.


No chilling winds or poisonous breath
Can reach that healthful shore;
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death,
Are felt and feared no more.


When I shall reach that happy place,
I'll be forever blest,
For I shall see my Father's face,
And in His bosom rest.

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven (Henry Francis Lyte, 1834)

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet thy tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
evermore his praises sing:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise him for his grace and favor
to our fathers in distress;
praise him still the same for ever,
slow to chide and swift to bless:
Alleluia, alleluia!
Glorious in his faithfulness.

Father-like, he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows;
in his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Widely yet his mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore him;
ye behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him,
dwellers all in time and space.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise with us the God of grace.


Grade: (A)


See also:

    -CD SITE : The Calm of Paradise (Christopher Miner)
    -Henry Alford (1810-1871) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Henry Alford (Sonnet Central)
    -Harriet Eugenia Peck Buell  (1834-1910) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Elizabeth C. Clephane (1830-1869) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -William W. How (1823-1897) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Jane Eliza Leeson (1808-1882) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Martin Luther  (1483-1546) (Cyber Hymnal)
    Henry Francis Lyte (1793-1847) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -George Matheson (1842-1906) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Thomas Benson Pollock (1836-1896) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Richard Redhead (1820-1901) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Samuel Stennett (1727-1795) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Henrietta L. von Hayn (1724-1782) (Cyber Hymnal)
    -Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) (Cyber Hymnal)