The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
I found a great hymn text in the Trinity Hymnal, Lord, I Was Blind: I Could Not See, by William T. Matson. The hymn has a unique ABBA rhyme structure. (That has nothing to do, by the way, with the ’70s Swedish pop group.)
Lord, I was blind: I could not see
In Thy marred visage any grace;
But now the beauty of Thy face
In radiant vision dawns on me.
Lord, I was deaf: I could not hear
The thrilling music of Thy voice;
But now I hear Thee and rejoice,
And all Thine uttered words are dear.
Lord, I was dumb: I could not speak
The grace and glory of Thy Name;
But now, as touched with living flame,
My lips Thine eager praises wake.
Lord, I was dead: I could not stir
My lifeless soul to come to Thee;
But now, since Thou hast quickened me,
I rise from sin’s dark sepulcher.
Lord, Thou hast made the blind to see,
The deaf to hear, the dumb to speak,
The dead to live; and lo, I break
The chains of my captivity.
The tune in the hymnal didn’t work for me, so I looked up the meter (188.8.131.52.) in the metrical index.
I found a great tune that Sandra McCracken wrote for The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free. It’s got a vibe like an old country song. I think it works even better for this text than that one.
I chose to do a very simple electric guitar accompaniment (with the bottom string tuned down a whole step) and my wife sang harmony. We played it in Ab, to make the falsetto register changes speak more clearly. The arrangement ended up sounding a lot like a Gillian Welch and David Rawlings song.
While it works well as a duet, using this tune for congregational singing would be very difficult, to say the least. For the melody to work, it needs to have a vocal register change between the odd and even lines of the song. That’s just too much to ask untrained singers to do. Nevertheless, it’s a great tune and a great hymn.