A Season of Clear Shining
Hymns by Edith Sinclair Downing
Hymn text collection
Author Edith Sinclair Downing
Released July 1998
Catalog no. 125-411 (Soft-cover, 52 pp.)
Price $12.95 (U.S.)
Read the Foreword by Joy Patterson, and Introduction by Edith Sinclair Downing.
Introduction by Edith Sinclair Downing
Sometimes a light surprises the child of God who sings.
It is the Lord who rises with healing in his wings.
When comforts are declining, he grants the soul again
a season of clear shining to cheer it after rain,
to cheer it after rain.
--William Cowper, Olney Hymns, Book III, 1779, alt.
The light that surprised me a few years ago has led to A Season of Clear Shining! I was in my late sixties. My husband and I were serving as full-time volunteers in ministry through a pilot program "Gift of a Lifetime." This sharing of hurts and hopes with older adults in a large retirement complex and four small churches was an important lap in my spiritual journey. A poetry sharing group awakened within me the desire to write poetry. I wrote a homecoming play for one of our churches, and added a hymn text to my contribution. This was sung at the celebrative worship service. Thus my hymn text writing career was launched!
Foreword by Joy F. Patterson
During most of her adult life, Edith Downing has felt called to ministry. Prevented by family obligations and other circumstances from pursuing ordination, she has ministered to many people through serving as an organist and director of children's and youth choirs as well as extensive volunteer work with older adults.
Hymn writing opened new vistas of possibility for her. Hymns have become, in her later years, a way both to reach out ot others and to verbalize her life-long dialogue with God. A large proportion of her hymns are addressed to God or to Christ in prayers for others, for herself, or for the church. Her names for the divine often characterize the action of Christ or of God in the hymn she is writing:
Holy One Who Breathes Me,
Love That Never Leaves Me,
Listener to my Soul
when my heart is broken,
you hear words unspoken,
you would make me whole.
Struggles with questioning and self-doubt appear in these hymns, but the predominant theme in Downing's writing is a profound trust in God's love. She writes
The One Who Understands Our Need
accepts us as we are;
and, like a loved one, welcomes us
when we have wandered far.
God never says we come too late
to be forgiven, free,
but promises we can become
the self we’re meant to be!
Downing's life and writing are characterized by a passion for justice and a compassion for others. This is found in her hymns for those struggling with illness and pain, those marginalized by society, and those alienated from society by their sexual orientation.
You will find in these hymns comfort and encouragement to make Christ an expected and active presence in your life, as it is for Edith Sinclair Downing:
When, like the woman at the well,
I lived with broken dreams,
Christ came to me, good news to tell, of everflowing streams.
--Joy F. Patterson