O God, to You I Cry in Pain

Music by Ron Klusmeier
Words by Shirley Erena Murray
Tune Name: ABBOTSFORD

Lyrics as Poetry

O God, to you I cry in pain
when sickness makes me weak,
when mind and body out of tune
bring fears I cannot speak.Give me the strength to face my ill,
to trust in skill and care,
to bless the hands that help me heal
and find your spirit there.

Remind me I am not alone
when suffering makes its mark;
be present at my pillow’s side
and help me through the dark.Within the comfort and the love
that human touch can give,
restore in me a larger sense
of what it is to live.

Allow my mind to rest in you,
and let your peace pervade
to hold me in your greater power
and not to be afraid.


Words by
Shirley Erena MurrayCopyright © 2006 by Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, Illinois • USA

Comments About Song

Comment by
SHIRLEY ERENA MURRAY
from her book
“Faith Makes the Song” (#28):

”I have found very few hymns that do not become unreal or even pietistic about this theme. Many forms of suffering are accompanied by fear, despite the traditional allusions to healing miracles. And the effect of human touch and concern is sometimes a miracle in itself. I have tried to express my own experience in this, while blessing the health professionals who show dedication and genuine concern for all aspects of our body and soul.

I like the words of Henri de Tourville, French priest and spiritual writer: ‘God eliminates illness through the growth of knowledge and of human wisdom.’”


Touch the Earth Lightly
is published by:Hope Publishing Company
Carol Stream, IL USA



A Reflection by hymnwriter
WALTER FARQUHARSON

When Joan and I first were introduced to words written by Shirley Erena Murray we felt connection to the words themselves and also to the author that we had never met. Over the years, as Ron wrote new tunes for her hymns, we learned to treasure more and more of what Shirley was offering to the church. Somehow, we had missed out on “O God, To You I Call In Pain”. It was just this week (June 20, 2021), as I continued my task of writing reflections to accompany the hymns by Shirley Erena Murray that Ron had posted on his website, I read this hymn for the first time. Waves of regret washed over me for I was certain that had we known this hymn it would have been a source of comfort and also an articulation of what Joan was experiencing as she lived out the nine months of dealing with an acute leukaemia. This heart-song would have been gift for Joan from the time she received her diagnosis until the last hours before her death. Now I wonder how it could become known to those walking similar journeys and to those journeying with them. It is a truth-filled, grace-filled song of faith.

I remember Joan experiencing an increasing weakness and weariness – little specific, but a pervasive discomfiting sense of “mind and body out of tune”. I remember clearly her first phone consultation with our family physician and her frustration at not being able to self-diagnosis. (She was a career nurse.) She sensed our doctor’s astute awareness that something serious was demanding attention. He provided an immediate referral for a thorough lab investigation. In his next call he gave news of an alarmingly low blood count – of both red and white cells. Time now raced forward. First came the call back for more lab work. Then there was the first blood transfusion and a spoken concern re leukaemia – and, almost immediately, word that an appointment had already been made for her at the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic in Regina. That mix of fear of the known and the unknown, the suspicions, and mental preparation for the results of a bone marrow test.

Within days there was confirmation of the diagnosis and a no nonsense, no equivocating consultation with a medical “team”. The team involved the oncologist, a nurse, a social worker. Joan and I listened as the team outlined her present situation and the prognosis, the options for treatment, the reality of palliative care. However much we “know” about such things, however much they have been part of our professional lives, everything becomes personal – and I suspect – for most of us – confusing. We are no longer in control. We need to trust those who will care for us, guide us, journey with us. There will need to be healing, even if there will be no cure for the disease we now must deal with. We enter a strange new world different from any we have known before.

“Give me the strength to face my ill, to trust in skill and care, to bless the hands that help me heal and find your spirit there.” It is strange to think so concretely about having to learn how to trust skill and care. On the one hand we have to trust the skill and care of those who are strangers to us, people we did not know until now, now when our well-being depends upon these who have not shared our stories, have not known what things we have celebrated, what things we have grieved. And, on the other hand, we must trust those who are so much part of our lives, lover and partner, child or parent, closest of friends. For roles will change – or move back and forth. There will be dependencies not recognized or experienced. There will be – will be so much for which I have no recipe, no game-plan, no bag of tricks. There will be a vulnerability to which I am the stranger. How well the poet has expressed this!

“Remind me I am not alone when suffering makes its mark; be present at my pillow’s side and help me through the dark.” I know that I am not alone. “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.” How often I have said these words, said them in company of others, said them with assurance, even experienced the truth of these words in a most intimate way. Yet I need to be reminded. When I wake at night and everyone else in the house is sleeping, sometimes then I am so alone. When the talk around me is about an event months away and I am aware that I will not likely be part of that event, it almost seems as if, already, I am not! When I have to go to bed, cannot stay up a minute longer – when I have to leave the group, the conversation or the activity, then the door I close, the light I shut off, seems to be the closing off of life. When I die, will I still love? “Be present at my pillow’s side and help me through the dark.” The night can be so long.

“Within the comfort and the love that human touch can give, restore in me a larger sense of what it is to live.” How important it is to be touched – and to be able to touch another – even to remember the touches, the hugs, the kisses, the embracing. Meaning is conveyed in spoken word or in raised arms, or in kisses blown from yards away and even through the windows and the masks made necessary by the protocols required in the midst of a pandemic. These touches, these words of love and comfort are of the moment, but they are also of the eternal. They are part of the promised eternal life, the life from above, the life that is, and that emanates from, the heart of God. I begin to know, more deeply, that life is more than breath and heartbeat. In so many moments I have known “a larger sense of what it is to live.” That is happening still, day by day, encounter by encounter. All that matters is interlaced with love. Life is growing into that love. Amen. So be it.

I have been typing this reflection but it has felt to me as if, part way through, I simply was transcribing what seemed to be a dialogue between Joan and Shirley.

“Allow my mind to rest in you, and let your peace pervade – to hold me in your greater power and not to be afraid.”

Good night, my love.


Audio Sample for "O God, to You I Cry in Pain"

Verses 1 & 3
sung by David Moddle

Scripture References

  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 28:6-9
  • Psalm 103:1-5
  • Psalm 121
  • Isaiah 55:10-12
  • Mark 5:1-20
  • John 3:1-12
  • John 14:1-19

Season, Theme
or Subject

  • Care, Caring
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Faith
  • Fear
  • Heal, Healing
  • Love∶ human love
  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Trust

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