In searching for Trinitarian worship music, Jonathan Stepp decided to write a new song – Hymn to the Trinity. Surprising perhaps, since Jonathan isn’t a song writer, but then again considering the theme of the hymn, perhaps not so surprising, since Jonathan is a church pastor in Nashville TN who for years has poured himself into preaching and writing about Trinitarian life—the good news that the Son of God lives in humanity and shares with us the relationship he has with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jonathan often refers to this as “the adopted life” – the life in which we are all participants now that the Trinity and Humanity are together in Jesus. Jonathan (along with Tim Brassell) developed The Adopted Life website and newsletter, and is a primary contributor to the Trinity and Humanity blog. He also teaches classes online for Grace Communion Seminary.
With the resurrection of Jesus in mind, Jonathan says he felt moved and blessed to write a song that expressed what was in his heart on this important subject. For the hymn’s music he chose a traditional Gaelic melody used in multiple songs, and most notably in modern times as Morning Has Broken, recorded by Cat Stevens.
It is interesting to note the tune was also used for the Gaelic Christmas hymn “Leanabh An Aigh” (Child in the Manger) by Mary McDonald and translated by Lachlan MacBean in "The Songs and Hymns of the Scottish Highlands" published in 1888. [Click here to view the actual page from the hymnal.] It is said that MacBean named the tune “Bunessan," after Mary McDonald's home village on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Thus a tune long used in singing about the incarnation now points to the resurrection as well.
Hymn to the Trinity
Jesus is risen, Heaven is dawning
Jesus revealing the Father’s love
Come Holy Spirit, show us the Father
Show us our place in the life of the Son
Joy and anguish, Diving and human
Heaven and all things joined in one Man
Jesus has brought us home to the Father
Give Him the glory for our new life
Praise to the Father, Jesus and Spirit
Praise to the Three who love life as One
Father in Jesus, Jesus in Father
Spirit in their love, one God in Three
The song begins with Jesus’ revelation of the Kingdom and the Father through the resurrection and then moves to our cry to the Holy Spirit to help us understand this marvelous revelation, for Jonathan points out that like the first disciples and the early church we struggle to grasp how Jesus is the Son of the Father even though God is One, and to know that we are included in that relationship through the Son’s humanity. Jonathan explains in the Trinity and Humanity blog that the second verse
“…is meant to express what it is that the Spirit reveals in answer to our prayer…. that Jesus is the union of the joy and divinity of heaven with the anguish and humanity of all things in creation (Eph. 4:10, Col. 1:17)…. [for] In Jesus both the pain and joy of existence are found to be real and true…. [but that] this union of heaven and all things in Jesus means that we have been ‘brought home to the Father’ and now have a ‘new life’ for which we give Jesus the glory (Eph. 2:6, 2:15)…. [and] everything that we are, joyful and agonizing, has been gathered up in the Son’s humanity and that heaven is dawning on us because we are now seated in Christ at home with the Father (Col. 3:1-4).Certainly there is enough pain and anguish to go around in this world, and the author does not try to spiritualize it away. In a two page article available on Trinity and Humanity, Jonathan (pictured left) comments on the crisis of belief in each individual’s life, and describes his thoughts behind each of the three verses and the reality to which the lyrics are intended to point.
The hymn seems especially fitting for an Easter service, and perhaps the first verse with its emphasis on the resurrection could be repeated at the end. Thanks Jonathan, and blessings as you continue serving in the ongoing ministry of the risen Jesus!