Setting foot on farther shore

This hymn was written at a Spring School for Ministers in the Southern Synod of the United Reformed Church, and was used at the concluding Communion service there. The theme of the Spring School was an exploration of ministry in contexts of transition – a theme in which the Exodus story featured large.

Setting foot on farther shore,
waters closing up behind;
Egypt’s armies nevermore
to be feared or brought to mind!
Thus the song of Israel’s host
rises up in gleeful boast:
“Freed at last from Pharaoh’s hand!
Soon we’ll see our Promised Land!”

Yet how lightly do the feet
touch upon each coastal stone:
for unknown the path they meet,
isolated, wand’ring, prone.
Waters soon will bitter taste,
people soon will counsel haste,
spirits fear too long to stand
in this threat’ning no-man’s-land.

Jesus, t’ward Jerusalem
boldly once you set your face;
thorns your waiting diadem,
death your fate in sinners’ place.
Three days buried in a tomb –
empty time, or freedom’s womb?
Risen Lord! Now take our hand,
lead us to our Promised Land.

Be the journey straight or slow,
strange the route, or clearly-shown,
let our trust and patience grow,
nurtured by God’s grace alone.
Rock-hewn water, manna-bread,
cloud and fire behind, ahead;
God’s own presence close at hand
keeps us safe ’til Promised Land.

Scripture References: Exodus ch.15 &c; Luke 9.51
Suggested Tune: Aberystwyth


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