Teach Our Eyes New Ways of Seeing
Hymns by Joy F. Patterson

Author Joy F. Patterson
Released July 2005
Catalog no. 125-452 (94 pp., soft-cover, spiral binding)
Price $15 (U.S.)

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Read the Foreword by Carl P. Daw, Jr. Download an excerpt from this book.

Teach Our Eyes New Ways of Seeing is a collection of Joy Patterson's hymns mostly written since 1994. Patterson is gifted both as a writer of hymn texts and as a composer of hymn tunes, and you will find wonderful examples of each in this book, including some where she wrote both text and tune. The title suggests her approach to hymn writing, and it is her gift to the church that we can indeed learn new ways to experience and understand God's love and grace through her hymns.

From the Foreword
by Carl P. Daw, Jr.

"The first general impression these hymns convey is her creative versatility as author and composer. . . . The range of topics within [Patterson's] texts is remarkable, yet there are some threads that weave themselves into almost every hymn. For one thing, there is nearly always a significant scriptural connection. Sometimes a text of scripture has been restated. . . in other cases events narrated in scripture are retold from a particular point of view, often with an interpretation or application in the final stanza. In both these ways, the hymn imparts a new liveliness and a fresh appreciation to a passage that may have become dulled by frequent use. . . .

At the same time many of her texts explore the implication of the Incarnation for how Christians live out their faith: we are challenged to continue the work Jesus began and entrusted to his first disciples--as well as to all those who come after them. There is no room here for a private faith that does not have public consequences. On the contrary, faith carries with it certain imperatives for justice, peace, mercy, and love."

--Carl P. Daw, Jr., from the Foreword
Executive Director, The Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada

"Those who know and admire Patterson's work will probably already have acquired this excellent volume. Others are hereby encouraged to do so and introduce themselves and their congregations to this distinctive and distinguished voice in contemporary American hymnody." --The Hymn, Winter 2007

"This is Patterson's second collection of texts and tunes, coming more than a full decade after her first, Come, You People of the Promise (Hope, 1994). Good things take time. To get the dry quantification out of the way, there are 65 hymns here: 14 with both text and tune by Patterson, and 41 with her texts set to tunes by others. The remaining ten are her tunes for texts by Shirley Erena Murray (five), Ruth Duck, Gracia Grindal, and Richard Leach (one each). That does not quite add up because the remaining two are tunes for the reviewer's own texts, and consequently were not considered in the review process.

Patterson's texts are often rooted in specific passages of scripture, but are never merely slavish versifications. "She Broke Her Alabaster Jar" (no. 27), based on Luke 7:36-50, is a good example. A lesser writer might have felt compelled to relate the incident from the beginning. But Patterson's opening line bids us enter only at the crux of the drama, using language that is clear and direct, with adjectives chosen to give the scene reality: the ointment is "fragrant," Jesus' feet are "weary," Mary's hair is "flowing."

Perhaps it is Patterson's academic training in another language (French) that has taught her how to treat her native English with such simplicity and respect. In any case, she uses it with craft and care, in a variety of meters and rhyme schemes, even eschewing rhyme to fine effect occasionally, as in "The Knowledge of God's Kingdom" (no. 60). Among the more traditional forms are several Old Testament paraphrases. One is struck particularly by the eloquence of her Psalm 130, "In Deep Despair I Cry to You," nicely fitted to David Ashley White's harmonization of MORNING SONG (no. 52). By comparison "The Ten Commandments (no. 53) seems pedestrian. Perhaps the Decalogue is better handled as a cyle of hymns rather than as a single text.

Hymn poets who, like Patterson, have the talent to compose their own settings, have an advantage: they can use both language and music to create a single effect (or affect, for that matter). Patterson has done it here, often with simple means, as in the balladic "They Dip Their Oars in Quiet Seas" (no. 56), where one might almost take the tune for a brief barcarolle. (If the full power of the subsequent storm is to be felt, some alternative harmonization or accompaniment may be necessary; the tune seems readily adaptable to such treatment).

Patterson's sensitivity in text setting clearly carries over into her musical treatment of others' words. Witness two tunes, very different in style: stately MONTREAT for Richard Leach's "O God, in Christ We Meet the King" (no. 50) and the flowing minor key WINTER SONG for Shirley Erena Murray's "Through All the World" (no. 34). While individual musical gestures may not always be strikingly original, each tune sets an appropriate tone for its text, and each seems eminently singable.

The musical settings of Patterson's words by other composers all seem to find the spirit of the texts, whether written specifically for them or retrofitted. Contemporary composers and arrangers represented are: Peter Cutts, Alfred Fedak, Roy Hopp, Hal Hopson, Amanda Husberg, Margaret Mealy, Sally Ann Morris, Thomas Pavlechko, and David Ashley White. Among these fine pairings especially note the intriguing use of Cutts' BRIDEGROOM for "On This Shining Easter Morning," a different sort of Easter text--there is nary an "alleluia" in sight! Perhpas best for a sunrise service, it makes a nice alternative use of the tune, most familiar as the setting of Carl Daw's "Like the Murmur of the Dove's Song." . . .

. . . Those who know and admire Patterson's work will probably already have acquired this excellent volume. Others are hereby encouraged to do so and introduce themselves and their congregations to this distinctive and distinguished voice in contemporary American hymnody." --John Core, The Hymn, Winter 2007


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