This hymn is inspired by Isaiah 64:1-9 (“tear open the heavens and come down; save us from our sin”) and Mark 13:24-37 (“in those days the stars will fall from heaven” and “keep watch”), two readings from the Revised Common Lectionary for the first Sunday of Advent, Dec. 3. 

When Nations Turn Toward Trouble
LLANGLOFFAN 7.6.7.6 D ("Lead On, O King Eternal") (MIDI)

When nations turn toward trouble
and hope seems all but gone,
when threats and conflicts double,
what can we count upon?

When truth becomes distorted
and love is pushed aside,
when hatred is supported,
God, open heaven wide!

Tear open wide your heavens; bring down your mighty throne!

Shake up the highest mountains and make your presence known —
till justice flows like water,
till rulers humbly pray,
till all know you're the potter,
till all know we are clay.

Christ, may we learn the lesson that you are coming here,
for just as fig trees blossom,
we know that summer's near.

Like guards remaining watchful all night, until the dawn,
may we who love the gospel
find strength to carry on.

May Christians march for justice, may peace prayers fill the streets,
may churches put in practice
the Christ-like ways we teach.

May we oppose what's hateful and stand for what is true —
and so may we be watchful
as we wait here for you.

Biblical References: Isaiah 64:1-9; Mark 13:24-37
Tune: Traditional Welsh melody, from Daniel Evans' Hymnau a Thonau (Hymns and Tunes), 1865 ("Lead On, O King Eternal"; "Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers")
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.

This hymn was originally commissioned by Presbyterian Outlook  and is available, with the hymn text and music together, as a PDF file with permission to print copies for your church.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette is the author of over 400 hymns that have been sung by thousands of congregations around the world, and are found in 20 books and thousands of web sites, including www.carolynshymns.com. Many of her hymns are published at Sojourners and are also found in Christian Century magazine, The New Yorker, National Public Radio, and PBS-TV. She and her husband Bruce are Presbyterian ministers who have served congregations in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. View the Sojourners video on Carolyn's hymns here.

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