by Susanne Maziarz, Music Director at Neighbourhood
Our hymn of the month is the same as last December, Shelley Jackson Denham’s (1950-2013) Dark of Winter, #55. It is a beautiful four-part hymn, beautiful in both text and music and so profoundly appropriate for this time of year. The lyrics are as follows:
Dark of winter, soft and still,
your quiet calm surrounds me.
Let my thoughts go where they will,
ease my mind profoundly.
And then my soul will sing a song,
a blessed song of love eternal.
Gentle darkness soft and still,
bring your quiet to me.
Darkness, soothe my weary eyes,
that I may see more clearly.
When my heart with sorrow cries,
comfort and caress me.
And then my soul may hear a voice
still, small voice of love eternal.
Darkness, when fears arise,
let your peace flow through me.
Shelley was the music director at the Heritage Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church in Ohio and heavily involved in The Mountain, the UU retreat centre in North Carolina. This hymn is also included in the Quaker’s hymnal. She is one of only a handful of women composers in Singing the Living Tradition and a couple of her other hymns are there as well; #86 Blessed Spirit of My Life, #194 Faith is a Forest (lyrics only), #256 Winter Night, and #354 We Laugh, We Cry.