Pride, Stonewall, and Hearts on Fire

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which gave birth to annual Pride celebrations each June. In light of the significance of THIS June’s Pride celebrations (June 22-23 in the Twin Cities and June 29-30 in NYC), I’m posting this hymn as a potential worship resource for Pride services.

Written for the 2008 Lutherans Concerned/North America (now ReconcilingWorks) Assembly–its chosen theme was “Hearts on Fire”–the hymn sets the journey of LGBTQ Christians within the story of Emmaus and LGBTQ Pride today, from its secular expression in Stonewall to its ecclesial expression in welcoming worship communities, same-sex marriage and ordinations. Christian denominations (indeed, individual congregations) are in widely varied places in this journey, but these issues remain critical in many of them and in our society a a whole. Being public in our solidarity for them remains as important as ever. Additionally, “Heart on Fire” is surely among the very small handful of hymn texts using a recognizable and very singable hymn tune that actually honors the Stonewall riots.

The hymn text is a rich journey through LGBTQ experience.
  • vv 1-2: Honor the sacredness of the stories—both coming out and faith stories—that weave the sense of family/kinship no less than Pentecost itself.
  • vv. 3-4: Acknowledge the context of oppression into which the Stonewall riots burst like a “Pentecostal choir”—and the way it helped push forward the welcoming church movement from sanctuaried gatherings into more publicly reclaiming a place in the Body of Christ.
  • vv. 5-6: Name two of the key shapes that this outpouring of Spirit longs to take in the church.

It seems to me the hymn text could be a powerful addition to any June Pride service, especially those that want to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.

Here’s a link to a Word doc with text only and links to a pdf file and a jpg file w/melody line included. BUT NOTE: I don’t hold the copyright to the tune. If you print the words with the melody you need to report that usage through your regular copyright subscription service. Very easily done, but essential to do! I also have the words w/melody on a png file, but can’t get that to display on the web for some reason. If you’d prefer a png file, zip me an email and I’ll provide it. Reach me at drw59mn(at)gmail.com.

I hope these words fill many a sanctuary with “hearts on fire” yet this month!

~David

Hearts on Fire

As if in the upper room, as if in God’s holy womb
As we celebrate this meal, as God’s welcome we reveal,
Hearts on fire, Christ’s desire, that our faith be born anew,
And the kin-dom of our God be ever true, ever true.

Here we gather, glad we say, Christ is with us here today.
In the stories that we tell, hear the Holy Wind now swell.
Hearts on fire, soaring higher, comes the Dove on flaming tongue,
Dreams and visions for our old and for our young, for our young,

Once our people lived in fear, once our hope was hard to hear,
Once our lives were framed by fright, ’til that Pentecostal night.
Hearts on fire, holy choir, of a most surprising tune
In the Stonewall cries of pride that distant June, distant June.

From the alleys running scared, from the brutal hate laid bare,
To a sanctuaried space, to the claiming of our place.
Hearts on fire, we aspire, find our missing Body parts
And re-member – every member – whose we are, whose we are.

From the moment that we dare, ask another’s life to share,
Mid the people gathered round, as our lives in love are bound.
Hearts on fire, steepled spires, tolling loud for life-long love,
Witnessed by the church below and God above, God above.

Now the One who knows all needs, on good soil sows good seed,
From the ground some grain is lured, to the Table and the Word.
Hearts on fire, Christ’s desire that this Body be made whole,
In the calling and the placing of the stole, of the stole.

Text: David R. Weiss, b. 1959 (© 2006 David R. Weiss)
Tune: Carl Schalk, b. 1929, THINE (Thine the Amen, Thine the Praise, With One Voice 801 – © 1983 Augsburg Publishing House)

Permission is given to photocopy Hearts on Fire for use in worship.

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