Gentle Is the Way of Jesus

a hymn about non-violence

Music by Ron Klusmeier
Words by Shirley Erena Murray
Tune Name: ISLAND BAY

Lyrics as Poetry

Gentle is the way of Jesus:
gentle is the healing soul
bandaging the wounds of conflict,
making peace, and making whole;gentle is the loving purpose
calling us to live this part,
by the chemistry of kindness
changing our ungentle heart.Inner violence besets us,
inner sickness, born of strife:
lost, our innocence as children,
lost, the focus of our life,hungry in a world of plenty,
thirsty in the showering rain,
searching for a sense of meaning,
seeking soul-food to sustain.Save us God, from what consumes us,
save us from the selves we hate,
bring us back into your household,
to the home you would create;stir in us the daily graces
that allow your way to start,
keeping company with Jesus,
changing our ungentle heart.


Words by
Shirley Erena MurrayCopyright © 2002 by Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, Illinois • USA

Comments About Song

Comment by
SHIRLEY ERENA MURRAY
from her book
“Faith Makes the Song” (#12):


“A hymn about non-violence, originally written to a tune sent to me by Jillian Bray. The hymn appears in a collection to support the World Council of Churches’ decade to Overcome Violence, called, ‘He Came Singing Peace’ (New Zealand Hymnbook Trust 2002).”


Faith Makes the Song
is published by:Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, IL USA


A Reflection by hymnwriter
WALTER FARQUHARSON

I love this hymn. And I especially love Ron’s spirited interpretation of it. The words and music dance into our lives inviting participation, inviting us into a world of healing, welcome, enabling.

The first image that came into my mind and soul as I heard this hymn for the first time took me back to Dublin School, the country school I attended for the first nine years of my school life. After the Second World War the community gathered to welcome home returning veterans, many of them accompanied by their new partners, war brides from various countries or young women met in the forces or in the communities close to training stations and in-country deployments. I remember that those community programs included a welcome home but also a remembrance of those who would not be returning and of all who suffered the ravages of war and a prayer for a world at peace.

After a program with recitations, musical numbers, sometimes a skit or two, there’d be a dance with music provided by a local pick-up band. The emcee would often announce at the beginning, and occasionally throughout the evening, a dance that would be interrupted by a call to “bring ‘em in!” On cue, dance partners separated and went to bring from the benches or the line at the back of the school room a new partner until all were dancing. Some adapted their dancing style and stance to dance with partners who couldn’t leave their seats. Whatever your age or circumstance you knew that someone would spot you and, hand outreached, approach you to join the dance. The little schoolroom would be so crowded no one needed to feel conspicuous.

“Gentle is the way of Jesus:
gentle is the healing soul
bandaging the wounds of conflict,
making peace, and making whole;
gentle is the loving purpose
calling us to live this part,
by the chemistry of kindness
changing our ungentle heart.”

I don’t like to admit how easily I can slip into a way of being that operates out of an ungentle heart. The old list of sins named greed, envy, pride, self-centredness, indifference to the suffering of others, and some others. Any of these can become a place of captivity, a place we name as normal, excusable, even as virtuous. Each, or any combination of these sins, can come to determine my personal way of thinking and acting. Similarly, this is true in the life of a community, any social group, any church or religion, any racial or ethnic grouping, any nation. All feed conflict, all nurture spiritual death. An interesting question is why so many churches today focus on other things they label as “sin” while making virtue of greed and self-centredness including their elevation of personal liberty (freedom to do whatever “I” want to do) even when that puts others at risk and denies social responsibility.

“Save us, God, from what consumes us,
save us from the selves we hate,
bring us back into your household,
to the home you would create;
stir in us the daily graces
that allow your way to start,
keeping company with Jesus,
changing our ungentle heart.”

Line by line, this hymn provides us with a way of examination of our actions, thoughts, compulsions – as individuals, as groups, as congregations, as communities.

The hymn is about making a new start – day by day. It is filled with the promise of newness and the possibility of renewal, rebirth, resurrection. We’re spotted, approached, and an outstretched hand invites us into the dance of life, anew.

Like Zacchaeus we are invited to come down from the tree because we’re invited to welcome “keeping company with Jesus” who has announced that he is coming to our house. Today!


An Activity: Make a list of things that might be cited as evidence that you have been “keeping company with Jesus”. Do the same for the congregation you are part of.

                                                    Audio Sample

"GENTLE IS THE WAY OF JESUS"
Verses 1 & 4 played on piano

Scripture References

  • Matthew 5:1-9
  • Matthew 6:19-21
  • Mark 7:17-23
  • Mark 12:28-34
  • Luke 6:43-45
  • Luke 19:1-10
  • John 7:37-38
  • Romans 8:26-28
  • Hebrews 4:12-14
  • James 1:14-27

Season, Theme
or Subject

  • Gentleness, Gently
  • Heal, Healing
  • Jesus∶ gentleness
  • Kindness
  • Peace
  • Wholeness

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