An Iowa pastor has written new hymn lyrics about the hurricane that’s being picked up by congregations nationwide. Dan Anderson, a pastor at Sioux City’s Wesley United Methodist Church, has been writing lyrics “off and on” since he attended Morningside College. Anderson was an English major at Morningside College, and one of his professors taught him how to write poetry.
“I’ve been doing it ever since,” Anderson says. Now, he’s set that poetry into a song. “Last week, like a lot of people, I was watching the news, seeing what was going on in New Orleans, and it seemed like every hour it was getting worse and worse and worse and worse and worse,” Anderson says. For the coming Sunday morning, he realized he’d like his own church to have something to sing that would express something more hopeful — as a line in his song goes
“There will be a brighter day.” Anderson says the response was emotional. Word spread quickly of his musical creation, and the intensity of the reaction has been rather unexpected. Anderson says it’s “something really neat” to see, because the song’s getting picked up by churches all over the country and he’s getting “very positive phone calls” from New York, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and other parts of the country.
“And yet it’s all because of this horrible, horrible disaster, and so I feel a little odd about that….I don’t think I’ve ever called a hymn writer and thanked them for a hymn,” he says, “And yet I’ve gotten a couple of dozen calls.” He says a lot of churches apparently picked up the lyrics, posted to a national church website, and figures many more will use it this coming Sunday.
The tune he chose isn’t original, and while it was written in 1887 by an Englishman named Henry Smart, you’d recognize it as the melody of a Christmas Carol titled “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” The lyrics are available from the General Board of Discipleship, of the United Methodist Church — at www.gbod.org.