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Richard Leach's fourth collection of texts. It includes his newest hymns for the church seasons, on Jesus' ministry, and in praise of God.
"Whoever creates the titles for Richard Leach's text collections, publisher or poet, finds those that are exactly right for the contents. Selah's fourth and most recent collection of Leach's work, 'Go Worship at Emmanuel's Feet,' represents exactly what's in the book, no more, no less. Contents are grouped under seasons of the church year and the teaching of Jesus, and it is from the first line of a stanza that reads 'Go worship at Emmanuel's feet, behold in Christ what wonders meet. No single word will e'er express his worth, his glory, or his grace' that the title of the collection comes. Details of the paraphrased stories of Jesus and the Christian year can be summarized in those four lines.
In fact, Leach is gifted at paraphrasing scripture, and the book is laid out so that the scripture references and topics are at the bottom of each poem's page and each of the two is included in an index. Worship planners should rejoice.
The poems dance in delicate balance between a personal relationship with Christ and the ethical living that Leach clearly sees as an outgrowth of that relationship. One could not say it better than this: 'And Jesus knows our flesh and bone, the colors of our hair and skin; the hands that link as lovers walk, the faces lined with age and care. The church alive to all of this, will know the world that Jesus knows; and be a church awake, alert, to love the world that Jesus loves' (p. 37).
Poems are written in a wide variety of meters, more nearly irregular than hymn texts of the last three centuries. The majority have at least two lines that rhyme, but Leach is not afraid to write unrhymed verse.
Metaphor abounds: at p.8, 'Jesus is the sunlight, Mary is a rainbow...' or at p. 20, 'Jesus, you are a stone and the city is water...'
Many have a distinct carol-like form with two or three lines repeated that beg for a lilting setting.
An interesting mix occurs when Leach mixes creativity of ideas and solid theology with conversational prose-like sentence sounds all in the same stanza. Some might argue this practice reveals inconsistency; others might appreciate the invitation to be alert and wrestle a bit with the form.
One practice that a reader might wish for is numbering of the poems, since poem numbers, if there, would not be identical to page numbers, which take looking for. Two columns in the index of first lines could contain both.
Richard Leach is a theologian attending a Lutheran church. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Princeton Theological Seminary. He works as business manager for a software company that his wife heads." --The Hymn, Spring 2005, review by Jane MarshallewSign up our