This is the last talk in my summer series about using hymns for private prayer: after this we will probably go back to biblical themes. Of course many of our hymns are biblically based, and this one certainly is. Though it isn’t strictly speaking a prayer at all, because it isn’t addressed to God or to Jesus but rather to our fellow Christians, what Julian of Norwich would have called our ‘even-Christians’.


Brother, sister, let me serve you,

let me be as Christ to you;

pray that I may have the grace to

let you be my servant too.


Our previous hymn/prayers have been obedient to Our Lord’s first commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and soul, and mind and strength. You might say that this hymn can help us to fulfil his second commandment, to love our neighbour as ourself.


We are pilgrims on a journey

and companions on the road;

we are here to help each other

walk the mile and bear the load.


The idea of the Christian life as a pilgrimage has always been strong. Just this week there have been two commemorations; Giles of Provence, who set up a monastery to support pilgrims to the Holy Land or to Compostella, and John Bunyan who used the idea of pilgrimage as the basis for his great Pilgrim’s Progress. We are all pilgrims, even if we’re not travelling: there’s that lovely verse, Psalm 119.54: ‘Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

The next verses show a degree of sympathy, even of empathy, that we don’t often reach except with a few very close friends. English people aren’t awfully good at pouring out their hearts to all and sundry. And a whole lot of words can easily be a turn off. But I think that we can very often make space to listen if someone does want to talk to us, and even when it is a short casual encounter we can make it a positive experience for the person we meet. So I am just going to say the next verses slowly, and perhaps you can hold in your mind someone who is afraid of all the  looming difficulties of living, or someone who is not at peace, or someone either joyful or sorrowful at the moment – and hold each of them up to God.


I will hold the Christ-light for you

in the night-time of your fear;

I will hold my hand out to you,

speak the peace you long to hear.


I will weep when you are weeping;

when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;

I will share your joy and sorrow

till we’ve seen this journey through.


When we sing to God in heaven

we shall know such harmony

born of all we’ve known together

of Christ’s love and agony.


There’s a great deal more we could say about being good and faithful servants, but not just now. Jesus himself washed his disciples feet; he saw himself as a servant and called them to be servants too. But also to be friends: ‘I have not called you servants any longer but I have called you friends’ he tells them, and us, in St John’s gospel (15.15) We can be both, and one way is by praying for each other.


Brother, sister, let me serve you,

let me be as Christ to you;

pray that I may have the grace to

let you be my servant too.


Hymn by Richard Gillard,  Common Praise 393,

Copyright Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

Sheila Shield, 4.9.2022