God Does Not Dwell in Narrow Hearts

Plants lift flowers to the sun
Empowered to breathe and bloom,
Our hearts are opened wide to God
And for God’s love make room. 

God does not dwell in narrow hearts,
though narrow is the road,
God lifts our hearts to be with Christ 
As first on cross Christ showed.

Seek poverty, and peace will come.
Depend on God alone,
As we desire to feed on love,

Love’s riches we will own.

God does not dwell in narrow hearts,
though narrow roads can be,
God’s love will come as we seek God,
Love’s generosity. 

For poverty will make love’s way,
And all things we possess,
We lean on God for treasure real,
And know that God will bless.

God does not dwell in narrow hearts 
though narrow is the path,
as God will guide through dark and light,
with God we’ll find our heart.

  • Jacapone da Todi, Lauda XV
  • Adapted by Ted Witham, Lent 2023
  • Metre 8686 – Nativity TiS 204
  •                           Bangor    TiS 515 (ii)

In Praise of Animals

Franciscan Duns Scotus (1226-1308) taught that every creature was a little Word of God. As such, each creature we encounter has a story to tell about itself and about the Creator. The hymn praises God for all creatures as little Words of God.


In wisdom you have made your world,
Creatures proclaim your power.
Your love in each is clear unfurled,
In bird, in beast and flower.

Your wisdom made the crocodiles,
their power and speed astound.
Tough fungi web outspread beguiles,
Vast networks underground.

The crocodiles reveal your strength,
Your speed to love all things.
The web of insightful tissue
interconnection sings.

The magpie carols as day starts,
She knows all souls by names;
The wagtail with his call insists
The territory he claims.

The magpie shows to us your joy,
in all things she delights.
The wagtail lauds your claim on all,
Your endless name he writes.

The sandalwood links to its host
so both the dry survive.
it takes and gives in synergy
Together we’re alive.       

That shapely tree with fragrant oil
shows how you earn our trust.
The clouds of sweetly smelling mist
spread news that you are just.  

Ted Witham 2022

Metre 8686 – Kingsfold

or 8686D – Ellacombe

Litany of Lament

Litany of Lament
Psalm 89:46-52

For Ukraine’s war, dear Lord, how long,
her cities bombed to dust?
Young children flee from Russia’s guns,
Lord, rescue those who trust!

Insurgents cause mayhem in towns
their weapons all spread fear.
They hold our cities hostages,
Will you, Lord, now appear?

Rich owners of the dirty mines
dig profits from the earth,
they vandalise our climate’s health,
Lord, bring the world new birth.

Some loathsome folk steal from the poor   
Their hearts all soaked in pride,
Our world divided by their greed,
Lord, show you’re on our side.

 It’s urgent, Lord, you now come near,
Why should you stay away?  
Dispel our doubts, dissolve our fear,
Turn to us, Lord, we pray!

  • Ted Witham tssf 2022

Metre: 8686. Tune: Martyrdom TiS 25
                                   or: St Peter TiS 485            

Alternative words to verse 1

For all at war, dear Lord, how long,
With cities bombed to dust?
Young children flee aggressors’ guns,
Lord, rescue those who trust!

Hymn for Jack Winslow – writer of the Third Order Rule: Feast Day 29 May

You teach us not to live for self
but to reach out to all;
Open our eyes to dawn’s bright rays
Community our call.

You gave Jack Winslow the insight
that makes fraternity:
And through our eyes see dawn’s bright rays
On our community.

With eloquence and phrases wise
Jack Winslow’s pen did write:
So may our eyes bask in dawn’s rays –
Community’s delight .

Today we come to praise our God;
Our Rule inscribes our heart:
With dawn we realise joy’s rays
Community impart.

  • Ted Witham tssf 2021

Metre: 8686 St Botolph TiS 223
                        Lucius TiS 442(ii)
                         Crimond TiS 10

Jack Winslow loved Job 3:9 so much that he used the image for the title of his ‘memories, reflections and hopes’, The Eyelids of the Dawn (Hodder & Stoughton, 1954)  
Let the stars of its twilight be dark, Let it wait for light, and there is none, And let it not look on the eyelids of the dawn.
Job 3:9 (Young’s Literal Translation)

Hymn for St Brendan

Hymn to Saint Brendan
Feast Day – May 16

Voyager, our patron Brendan
sailed through seas to search for God.
Voyagers, Christians of Warnbro,
follow him along the road.

Brendan, hero and God-seeker,
Now we praise our God for you!
Brendan, hermit and prayer-speaker,
Teach us how to search like you.

Navigate the way of Jesus,
Find out how to bear the cross,
Piloting from sin to glory
Daring all, not count the cost.

Trav’lling where the current carried,
Brendan left the course to God,
Sometimes turning in a circle,
Sometimes finding new abodes.

Now we know that Brendan landed
on the New World’s distant beach,
Awesome sights and skies unbounded
Never are beyond God’s reach.

Brendan, saint and our companion,
Teach us how we are to cede
lives and worries to God’s keeping,
Blessed with Jesus in the lead.

– Ted Witham 2021

Metre 8787 8787 Blaenwern
or ‘The Carnival is Over’

See Her Weeping Hard Hot Tears

See her weeping hard hot tears,
Grieving for her only Son,
Shrinking as they plunge their spears
Killing human Three in One.

As they hammer hands to hardwood,
Nail the body, crush the bone,
Mary feels in her the sorrow,
A sword of her very own.

All of us have loved a mother,
and been loved by her in turn,
As we watch the Saviour suffer,
Mary’s suffering we can learn.

So how sad and quietly moaning
Was the Mother at the Cross,
Dignity her anguish owning
In her catastrophic loss.

Who among us watching Christians
Does not weep as Mary mourns?
Who is so cold and hard-hearted
Not to feel the Paschal thorns?

Standing by your side, dear Mother,
May we share your love of Christ,
Count the death of our dear Brother
As God’s generous sacrifice.  

Stabat Mater Dolorosa, attributed to Friar Jacapone (Crazy Jim) da Todi (ca. 1230 – 1306)
Paraphrase by Ted Witham tssf © 2021

Metre: 8787
Cross of Jesus TiS 136
or 8787D
Abbot’s Leigh TiS 153

New Eternal Breath

A Hymn for Easter

Christ is risen! He’s been sprung
from the once locked prison of death.
Christ is risen to be sung
With our new eternal breath.  

Christ is ris’n! Women and men;
animals on farm and wild,
Christ is ris’n! Magpie and wren,
voice of life, sing to God’s Child.  

Christ is ris’n! With cosmic power,
the old order overturned,
Christ is ris’n! Aleph and Taw,
For us endless life has earned.  

Christ is ris’n! Noongar* and white
in Christ’s death are reconciled.
Christ is risen! All made right,
God’s life-giving power has smiled.  

  • * or Koori, or black folk 
  • Ted Witham  2018 
  • 7777 (Savannah TiS 219(i), Easter Hymn (with alleluias))  


Cosmic resurrection. Image: Duston Lyon







Saint Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony of Padua, preach across Italian towns:
Yes, your voice is the sweetest
Tells of God’s love coming down.
Saint Anthony of Padua, faith-filled, still your smile survives:
Your loyal life is the dearest
shows God’s love will fill our lives.

Preach that love is in the clear.
Preach that Jesus Christ is dear.

Saint Anthony of Padua, God’s power loved to heal through you:
Followed dear father Francis,
He showed Jesus Christ to you.

Preach it far! Preach it near! Preach it clear!

Saint Anthony of Padua, sweet voice sounds across the years,
Saint Anthony of Padua,
heals the Church from all its tears.


  • Ted Witham tssf, St Anthony of Padua, June 13, 2017
  • To the tune of Three Coins in the Fountain.

The music score (with my words) in a low key can be found here.

A poor quality sound recording can be accessed by clicking the thumbnail. 




Breath on a Feather

Hymn for Epiphany

You Lord of grace, you’re breath on a feather,
You inspire us to care, adore;
Your breath helps us to praise together,
Our song, just our song, makes us more.

You Lord of grace, you’re barbs of a feather,
Strengthen our lives with love’s surprise;
Your longing heart helps us to tether
Ourselves to you, you improvise.

You Lord of grace, you’re shaft of a feather,
You hold us tall whate’er the storm;
You teach us to hold your standards to treasure,
Upright in virtue we transform.

You Lord of grace, you are the whole vane,
You let us fly to love’s true height;
We feel your guidance your will ascertaining:
Obedience now makes you shine bright.

  • Ted Witham 2017
  • 9898 St Clement, O Waly Waly.


Parts of a feather:

  1. Vane
  2. Rachis
  3. Barb
  4. Afterfeather
  5. Hollow shaft, calamus

Gaze on the Mirror of Eternity

Gaze upon the Lord of love,
gaze upon his face of grace;
gaze upon the living One
who holds you in close embrace.

Gaze upon the Lord of love,
gaze upon his coming poor
from the highest of the heavens
to our lowly earthly shore.

Look upon his loving way,
look upon his open heart,
look upon his sacred cross,
from death’s dust to bring new start.

If you learn from suffering,
If you open to life’s pain,
and allow your heart to weep,
then with him you’ll always reign.

Gaze upon the Lord’s dear cross,
the wounds of each day’s love,
Gaze on his life, and know the
splendours of God’s heav’n above.

  • Adapted from St Clare of Assisi and the Irish Province OFM
  • Sing to The Carnival is Over
    NOTE: To sing the last stanza, repeat the last 8 bars of the music,
    i.e. from Bar 25 to the second ending.
  • Or leave out the last four lines of the words.