Dan Schutte had been writing liturgical music for well over a decade when “Here I Am, Lord” was recorded in 1981. It was something of familiar territory for him and for the group, as the antiphon+verses format was well-trod. Also the psalms and other Scripture passages that spoke of the call of God and the human response to that call. “Before the Sun Burned Bright” and “Come With Me Into The Fields,” to name two early efforts.
I consider it a sign of a healthy Church that songs related to service have ranked so highly in many polls. “Here I Am, Lord” was number two in the NPM poll, number one in a 2004 poll conducted by The Tablet. Here’s one of the comments from the NPM effort:
I first heard this song shortly after its publication, when my sister completed her training for youth ministry. It spoke clearly of her reasons for vocation, and she and her husband (whom she met during training) still work in the field for the Oakland Diocese. Most of my family members have served our parishes as musicians, singers, CCD teachers, and ministers of the Eucharist. I still get a lump in my throat when I sing this hymn. How else do you respond to the Lord’s call but to use his gifts in service to others?” (Steven West, Morton Grove, Illinois).
Maybe this hymn is a bit more of a refined taste. In English:
1. Creator of the stars of night, Your people’s everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all, We pray you hear us when we call.
2. In sorrow that the ancient curse Should doom to death a universe,
You came, O Savior, to set free Your own in glorious liberty.
3. When this old world drew on toward night, You came; but not in splendor bright,
Not as a monarch, but the child Of Mary, blameless mother mild.
4. At your great Name, O Jesus, now All knees must bend, all hearts must bow:
All things on earth with one accord, Like those in heav’n, shall call you Lord.
5. Come in your holy might, we pray, Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below From all assaults of our dread foe.
6. To God Creator, God the Son, And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Praise, honor, might, and glory be From age to age eternally.
The original text, anonymous, goes back centuries, probably to the seventh. Conditor Alme Siderum became Creator Alme Siderum in 1632 with a papal revision of texts for the liturgy. Lots and lots of arrangement of this are available, including one by Marty Haugen on his mid-80′s release Night of Silence.
Be not silent; cast your vote.