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Hymns by Denis Hurley

A Hurley Hymn Book

Archbishop Hurley began to write hymns as soon as it became clear at the Second Vatican Council that the liturgy would be in the vernacular. Working with Moira Birks of the Music Department at the University of Natal, he composed a number of hymns mostly to existing melodies, adapted some for use in Catholic liturgy and improved the theology of others. Most of these were published in the People's Hymn Book (PHB1965), but he also composed several more hymns over the years, so this is the first compilation of all his hymns. If any have been omitted by mistake or in ignorance, please let us know. Some slight changes have been made in the interests of gender inclusivity, a process of which the Archbishop strongly approved.

  • Across The Years
  • Arise, Be Enlightened, O Jerusalem
  • As We Remember, Lord, The Word
  • Before You, Lord, We Bring Our World
  • By The Father's Love Forechosen
  • Come With Wonder And Delight
  • Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Let Heart And Voice
  • Eternal Father, We Are Your Creation
  • Father From The Wealth Of Your Creation
  • Firm Is Our Faith In One True God
  • Follow Me
  • God, At Creation's Dawn
  • God of Mercy and Compassion
  • God Our Maker, Mighty Father
  • Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
  • If God Is Our Defender


  • I'll Sing A Hymn To Mary
  • I Will Go To The Altar Of God
  • Let Us Now In Worship Bending
  • Lord, For the Sacrifice We Come
  • Lord, This Paschal Time Reminds Us
  • Magnificat
  • Now Into Paradise May Angels Lead You
  • O Holy Spirit, Come We Pray
  • O Light For Ever Dawning
  • Receive, Dear God And Father
  • Send Forth Your Spirit, God Our Father
  • Sing To The Lord A Song
  • Jordan's Ancient Banks
  • We Thank You God Our Father
  • You Gave Us Lord

    Across The Years

    Tune: St. Columba

    Across the years there echoes still
    The Baptist's bold assertion:
    The call of God to change of heart,
    Repentance and conversion.

    The word that John more boldly spoke
    In dying than in living
    Now Christ takes up as he proclaims
    A Father all forgiving.

    The erring child he welcomes home
    When all is spent and squandered.
    He lovingly pursues his sheep
    That from the fold has wandered.

    Forgive us, Lord, all we have done
    To you and one another.
    So often we have gone our way
    Forgetful of our neighbour.

    Forgetful of the cross they bear
    Of hunger, want, oppression -
    Grant, Lord, that we may make amends
    Who humbly make confession.

    Arise, Be Enlightened, O Jerusalem

    (Based on Isaiah 60:1-5)

    Tune: M. Birks PHB No. 49

    Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for your light has come
    And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.

    For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
    And thick darkness the peoples;
    But the Lord will rise upon you,
    And his glory will be seen upon you.

    Lift up your eyes round about, and see;
    They all gather together, they come to you.
    Your sons shall come from afar
    And your daughters shall be carried in the arms.

    Then you shall see and be radiant,
    Your hearts shall thrill and rejoice;
    The fullness of the seas shall be turned to you,
    The wealth of the nations shall come to you.

    They shall bring gold and frankincense
    And shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
    They shall come up with acceptance on my altar
    And I will glorify my glorious house.

    As We Remember, Lord, The Word

    Tune: Full in the panting heart of Rome

    As we remember, Lord, the word
    That Peter, your Apostle heard,
    We pray it may your Godhead please
    To be with him who bears the keys.


    God bless our Pope, God bless our Pope,
    God bless our Pope, the great, the good.

    The three-fold pledge that Peter gave
    Moved you to bestow the shepherd's stave;
    Sustain the hand that now must hold
    Firm guidance of your cherished fold.

    O guard and guide unceasingly
    The one who now the rock must be,
    The one's whose faith must never fail,
    nor let the gates of hell prevail.

    Before You, Lord, We Bring Our World

    Tune: Jerusalem

    Before you, Lord, we bring our world,
    Lord of our hearts, our hurts, our joys.
    We come to make our offert'ry
    From gifts your providence bestows:
    The seed that hides its secret hope,
    The harvest bursting to the skies,
    Our life, our love, our happiness,
    The trust that never fades and dies.

    Creating all, a word you spoke,
    Word of ineffable extent;
    And then your Word, in flesh arrayed,
    To grace creation's work you sent.
    This bread and wine we offer now,
    That know so well his hallowed touch,
    Will soon become the flesh and blood
    He gave in loving us so much.
    By The Father's Love Forechosen

    Tune: Holland

    By the Father's love forechosen, on her virginal assent
    Hung the myst'ry of salvation,
    All God's merciful intent.
    Now she reigns in heaven's glory
    Who refused not her consent.

    By the Spirit overshadowed,
    Virgin Mother she became,
    And the love that gave her offspring
    Burns for ever like a flame;
    Where she reigns in heaven's glory
    In the splendour of his name.

    By the Son of God called Mother,
    For his human flesh she gave,
    She was with him at the moment
    When he died, the world to save.
    Now she reigns in heaven's glory
    O'er the blessed and the brave.

    With her earthly task accomplished,
    And the infant Church begun,
    She was summoned to God's Kingdom
    To be near her only Son;
    Where she prays in heaven's glory
    For the fullness yet to come.

    Come With Wonder And Delight

    Tune: Wozanini nonke

    Come with wonder and delight
    To this holy Sacrament,
    That our Saviour, in his mercy,
    Gave us in remembrance.

    Here the flesh he gave for us;
    Here the blood he shed for us;
    If we eat and drink believing,
    We shall live forever.

    Hearken to the Saviour's voice
    Calling us to come to him
    All who labour and are burdened
    Find in him refreshment.

    Here we find our sins forgiv'n;
    Here we find our guilt removed.
    Grant us, Lord, such strength and virtue,
    We may cease offending.

    Led by your sustaining hand,
    May we pass through death to life,
    There to share your risen splendour,
    Your eternal glory.

    Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Let Heart And Voice

    (Verse 2 composed by DEH)
    Tune: St. Edmund

    Emmanuel, Emmanuel,
    Let heart and voice their gladness tell
    Alleluia, alleluia.
    Though robed in majesty above
    Yet in this sacrament of love
    God is with us, alleluia.

    This song of joy and thanks we raise
    As Christ, our hidden God, we praise:
    Alleluia, alleluia.
    Victim for us once crucified,
    But ris'n again and glorified,
    He is with us, alleluia.
    Eternal Father, We Are Your Creation

    Tune: Herliebster Jesu: JS Bach

    Eternal Father, we are your creation,
    With earth our mother, heav'n our destination,
    We labour onwards, knowing sin's sad story,
    To reach your glory.

    In loving mercy Christ your Son you sent us
    To be our Saviour, calling to repentance,
    And raised on Calv'ry, making expiation
    For our salvation.

    We ask forgiveness, since we have neglected
    To recognise him, suff'ring and rejected
    Along the roadside, wounded, unattended
    And unbefriended.

    Despite our failure, you do not reject us,
    But seek in mercy ever to correct us,
    So grant us pardon as we make confession
    Of our transgression.


    Father From The Wealth Of Your Creation

    Father from the wealth of your creation,
    We present our gifts of bread and wine,
    Knowing that your wondrous consecration
    Makes of them a myst'ry and a sign.

    Myst'ry of death and self-surrender,
    Sign of resurrection and of grace;
    Sacrament enfolding every splendour
    You have lavished on our fallen race.

    Grant, dear Lord, in love we may not falter,
    Keep us in forgiveness undefiled.
    We should leave our gifts before the altar
    If we cannot come here reconciled.

    Reconciled through mercy for the suff'ring,
    Through a deep concern for the oppressed,
    May our hearts accompany our offering,
    As our gifts become your Eucharist.
    Firm Is Our Faith In One True God

    Tune: Moira Birks

    Firm is our faith in one true God.
    Loving Father and King supreme.
    Mighty Creator, Lord of all,
    Visible world and world unseen.

    And we believe in God's own Son,
    One with him from eternal dawn,
    Who by the Spirit was conceived
    And of his Virgin Mother born.

    Man he was made and man he lived,
    Man he suffered in cruel strife,
    When on the cross he fought with death,
    Conquered and rose to deathless life.

    This is our faith in the Spirit too:
    Lord and giver of life is he,
    One with the Father and the Son,
    Spirit of love and unity.

    Faith we profess in one true Church,
    Sin forgiven and grace restored,
    Hope for the vict'ry over death,
    Life without end in Christ our Lord.

    Follow Me

    Tune: Praise my soul, the King of heaven

    Lord you sent your Son from heaven
    To instruct us and to save
    And to lead us on your journey
    From the cradle to the grave.
    May we listen, may we answer
    To the summons: "Follow me".

    When our life is hard and heavy
    And we find our strength has failed;
    We recall that crucifixion
    When his hands and feet were nailed.
    May we face his loving challenge:
    "Take your cross and follow me".

    As we honour the great glory
    Of our risen King and Lord,
    Knowing that he lives within us
    With the Spirit he outpoured,
    We look forward always gladly
    To fulfil his "Follow me".

    We were called to share his labour,
    Conscious of his saving power;
    Conscious of his presence in us
    As we serve him hour by hour;
    Hoping that our future glory
    Will complete his "Follow me".
    God, At Creation's Dawn

    Tune: Moscow

    God, at creation's dawn,
    Over a world unborn,
    Your Spirit soared.
    By word and water deign:
    That this same Spirit reign
    In those now born again,
    Through Christ our Lord.

    We who in Adam fell,
    Are as the Scriptures tell,
    Saved and restored.
    For, when these rites are done,
    Dying we are made one,
    Rising we overcome,
    With Christ our Lord.

    Hear us your Church, rejoice,
    Singing with grateful voice,
    Father adored;
    Telling our faith anew,
    Greeting with welcome true
    Children new born to you,
    In Christ our Lord.

    God of Mercy and Compassion

    (New Hurley wording for verses 2 and 3)

    God of mercy and compassion,
    Look with pity upon me,
    Father let me call thee Father,
    'Tis thy child returns to thee.

    By my sins I have offended
    One whose mercy knows no bounds,
    Mercy that to thy great glory
    Ever lovingly redounds.

    When thy Son was sent among us
    He proclaimed thy reign is near,
    Summoned us to be repentant
    And thy saving word to hear.

    See our Saviour, bleeding, dying,
    On the cross of Calvary;
    To that cross my sins have nailed him,
    Yet he bleeds and dies for me.

    God Our Maker, Mighty Father

    Tune: Beethoven

    God, our maker, mighty Father,
    All creation sings your praise,
    Sun and stars in all their splendour,
    Moon in ev'ry changing phase.
    Earth with all its trees and grasses,
    Sparkling rivers, oceans blue,
    All unite to pay you homage,
    Singing joyously to you.

    Provident and wise Creator,
    As your mighty plan unfurled,
    You made us to share your labour,
    In the building of the world.
    Man and women you created,
    That united heart and home,
    They might work and strive together,
    Till your endless kingdom come.

    God of truth and love unbounded,
    Further still your mercy went,
    When uniting earth with heaven,
    Your incarnate Son you sent:
    First-born of your vast creation,
    Holding all in unity,
    Leading all in power and wisdom,
    To a glorious destiny.

    Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty

    Nicaea 11 12 12 10

    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
    Heav'n and earth are filled with your Godhead's mystery.
    May our hearts and voices bless and praise you rightly,
    God of all wisdom, love and unity.

    Holy, holy, holy, God all creating,
    Wonderf'ly and wisely ordaining ev'rything.
    May we, humble creatures, striving, hoping, waiting,
    Share in your labour, everlasting King.

    Holy, holy, holy, God of salvation,
    Death and resurrection unite us in your Son,
    We, your priestly people, pledge our dedication,
    Eager to serve you, till the world is won.

    If God Is Our Defender

    Aurelia 76 86 D

    If God is our defender
    Who will th'accuser be?
    His only Son he spared not
    But gave him graciously.
    When God himself grants pardon
    Who ventures to condemn?
    Will Jesus Christ the Saviour
    Who died and rose for all?

    Can anything divide us
    From that most loving Lord?
    Can pain or tribulation?
    Can famine, peril, sword?
    No, none of these can cause us
    From his great love to fall;
    For by the strength he gave us
    We triumph over all.

    Of this we can be certain
    And sing with ev'ry breath:
    That nought that is or will be
    And neither life nor death,
    And nothing in creation,
    Below us or above,
    Can tear us from Christ Jesus
    And from his Father's love.

    I'll Sing A Hymn To Mary

    (Adapted by DEH)

    Tune: Turris Davidica

    I'll sing a hymn to Mary,
    The Mother of my God,
    The Virgin of all virgins,
    Of David's royal blood.
    O help us blessed Mother,
    Through sorrow, praise or blame,
    To seek the face of Jesus
    And love and bless his name.

    O noble tower of David,
    Of gold and ivory,
    The ark of God's own promise,
    The gate of heav'n to me.
    Whenever we extol you
    And sing our Mother's fame,
    We honour Christ our Saviour
    And love and bless his name.

    O dawn of our salvation,
    And pledge of what shall be,
    Pray God for all his people
    That we too may be free.
    In loving one another
    May we this faith proclaim,
    See Christ in ev'ry neighbour,
    And love and bless his name.

    I Will Go To The Altar Of God

    (Arranged from Psalm 42) Tune: M. Birks PHB No. 137


    I will go to the altar of God,
    To God, the joy of my youth.

    Give me justice, my God, and defend me,
    Free me from harm and deceit.

    For in you, O my God, I find refuge.
    Why should I weep and lament?

    Lend your light and your truth to conduct me,
    Faith that will lead me to you.

    I will sing out your praise to the heavens,
    Why should I weep and lament?

    Let us hope in the Lord God Almighty,
    Praise him our Saviour and King.

    Let Us Now In Worship Bending

    PHB No. 178

    Let us now in worship bending.
    This great sacrament revere,
    Ancient symbols have their ending
    As the newer rites appear.
    Faith supplies, its help extending,
    For the failing senses here.

    Sing with praise, with joy and blessing
    To the Father and the Son;
    Glory, honour, might confessing,
    No due homage left undone.
    Equal praise to him addressing
    Who proceeds in Godhead one.

    Lord Assembled In Your Presence

    Tune: Stuttgart

    Lord, assembled in your presence,
    We direct our thoughts to you.
    We have come, a sinful people,
    To be sanctified anew.

    We have come to hear instruction
    In each sacred word and phrase,
    By your light and truth prepare us
    For the sacrifice of praise.

    May we share with Christ our Saviour
    All the gain and all the loss,
    As he worshipped, priest and victim,
    On the altar of the cross.

    Glory to our heav'nly Father,
    Glory to his risen Son,
    Glory to the Holy Spirit,
    Perfect Godhead, Three in One.

    Lord, For the Sacrifice We Come

    Providence 84 84

    Lord, for the sacrifice we come
    With bread and wine;
    Fruit of your goodness and our toil,
    Symbol and sign.

    Sign of the wonder of your work,
    Sign of your love,
    Soon to be made the sign of food
    Come from above.

    Wheat that was crushed upon the cross,
    Wine that was poured:
    Healing and health you gave to us
    Saved and restored.

    Father, we offer with these gifts
    Ourselves to you:
    All that we think and feel and say,
    All that we do.

    Grant that our life, our work, our world,
    In Christ your Son,
    All may be raised and sanctified,
    All may be one.

    Lord, This Paschal Time Reminds Us

    Lux: Sir A. Sullivan

    Lord, this paschal time reminds us
    How you came back from the dead.
    Firm and true the faith that binds us
    To our glorious, risen Head.
    Alleluia, alleluia,
    You have risen as you said,
    Alleluia, alleluia,
    You have risen as you said.

    'Neath the burden of our labour,
    Mid our joy and pain and strife,
    In our trying to be neighbour,
    To be parent, husband, wife;
    Alleluia, alleluia,
    Be to us the source of life,
    Alleluia, alleluia,
    Be to us the source of life.

    Make us true to our vocation
    With the strength that comes from you;
    Make our life a dedication
    With the love that you imbue.
    Alleluia, alleluia
    Grace and peace in us renew,
    Alleluia, alleluia
    Grace and peace in us renew.

    Hold this vision, Lord, before us;
    In this hope our faith sustain:
    That to life you will restore us
    When at last you come again.
    Alleluia, alleluia,
    Make us worthy of your reign,
    Alleluia, alleluia,
    Make us worthy of your reign.


    Adapted by DEH

    My soul proclaims Magnificat,
    My spirit sings God's praise.
    He saved and graced his humble maid,
    And all shall call her blest.

    His might has done great things for me
    And holy is his name.
    On all who hear his mercy pours
    From every age to age.

    His strength of arm he has revealed,
    The proud he has dispersed,
    The mighty from their thrones has hurled,
    Not rich but hungry fed.

    His servant Israel he has helped
    And mercy's promise kept:
    The promise to our parents made:
    The stock of Abraham.

    Magnificat, praise God, praise God.
    Magnificat, praise God.
    Praise God, praise God, praise God, praise God,
    Magnificat, praise God.
    Now Into Paradise May Angels Lead You

    Adapted from May the Angels Lead You into Paradise (Rite of Funerals)
    Plainsong adapted by M. Birks PHB No. 134

    Now into Paradise may angels lead you,
    And martyrs at your coming bid you welcome,
    And to the Holy City bring you safely, Jerusalem.

    Be there a choir of angels to receive you,
    And may you find with him who once was needy,
    The poor man Laz'rus of the Gospel story, eternal rest.

    I am the resurrection and the true life;
    If you believe in me you shall not perish,
    Though you may die, yet you shall live for ever, for ever.

    I know that my Redeemer lives in glory
    And from the earth I'll rise up on the last day,
    And in my flesh I'll see my God, my Saviour, amen.

    O Holy Spirit, Come We Pray

    (Translation from Latin)
    Tune: Tallis Ordinal C.M.

    O Holy Spirit, come we pray
    To hearts by you designed,
    And grant that in their inmost depths
    Your presence be enshrined.

    You are our friend and counsellor,
    Our gift from God above,
    The fount of life, the healing balm,
    The flaming fire of love.

    You are the finger of God's hand,
    The tongue's prophetic sound.
    In you the promise is fulfilled,
    The seven gifts abound.

    Give love to every empty heart,
    Enlighten ev'ry sense,
    And in our weakness be our help,
    Our strength and our defence.

    Through you may we the Father know,
    Through you his risen Son.
    Through faith in you may we extol
    The blessed Three in One.

    O Light For Ever Dawning

    Passion Chorale 76 76 D: J S Bach

    O Light forever dawning
    Beyond the darkest night;
    O comfort of the mourning,
    Our strength and our delight;
    Receive our humble pleading
    For those whose course is run,
    Lest pardon they be needing
    For any evil done.

    To him who like the eagle
    Arose on conqu'ring wing,
    The cross his regal banner,
    O death, where is your sting?
    There's surely no rejection
    For those who share his strife,
    But hope and resurrection
    And everlasting life.

    Receive, Dear God And Father

    Tune: Ewing

    Receive, dear God and Father,
    Our gifts of bread and wine
    With all the deep enrichment
    Of wheat-field and of vine:
    The air, the rain, the sunshine,
    The wonder of the soil,
    The share in your creation
    Involved in human toil.

    The earth that you have given,
    The firmament above
    Reveal your sacred presence
    In wisdom, power and love.
    But this does not content you
    A stronger presence still
    You show in Christ our Saviour
    Who came to do your will.

    As bread and wine now offered
    His flesh and blood become,
    So all must be transfigured
    In Christ who is your Son.
    We join his new creation
    In answer to your call,
    That, by this transformation,
    You may be all in all.

    Send Forth Your Spirit, God Our Father

    St. Clement 98 98: C.C. Scholefield

    Send forth your Spirit, God our Father,
    As you have sent him in the past:
    At Gabriel's word, by Jordan's water,
    As Jesus went to pray and fast.

    In this same Spirit he proclaimed you
    On Judah's hills, by Galilee,
    He called us to your heav'nly kingdom,
    He died and rose triumphantly.

    And now though seen by us no longer
    He rests not from the task begun,
    But breathes the Spirit of his sonship
    On those of ev'ry race and tongue.

    May he be with us at this moment
    And give us of your Spirit still,
    That we may do the work that waits us
    And strive your purpose to fulfil.

    At confirmation:
    May all who come for confirmation
    Be richly with your Spirit sealed:
    To love and serve you in their neighbour,
    Until your glory is revealed.
    Sing To The Lord A Song

    (Arranged from Psalm 97)
    Mary of Bethany

    Sing to the Lord a song that is new:
    Wondrous his deed, triumphant his hand,
    Justice he shows to the nations around,
    Steadfast and faithful his love for his land.

    Joyously sing to the Lord, all the earth,
    Praise God with music, praise and adore.
    Praise God with harp, with the trumpet and horn,
    Joyously sing to the Lord evermore.

    Glad be the earth and its dwellers rejoice,
    Mountains exult and rivers applaud,
    Thunder the sea and its fullness give voice,
    For God is coming to reign as the Lord.
    Jordan's Ancient Banks

    Winchester New L.M.

    The Jordan's ancient banks are stirred
    To hear the Baptist's ringing word,
    The urgent and prophetic cry
    Proclaiming that the Lord is nigh.
    And shall we turn away our face,
    Refusing God's redeeming grace?
    And shall we offer welcome cold
    To greet the Saviour John foretold?

    Arise you Christian people all,
    Obey the summons, heed the call,
    Repent and with your sins forgiv'n
    Rise up to meet the King of heav'n.

    We Thank You God Our Father

    Tune: Ewing

    Written for the launch of the Renew project, 30 July 1989

    We thank you God our Father
    For sending us your Son
    To call us to your Kingdom
    Where we shall all be one.
    As when the first disciples
    Your Spirit set on fire
    Through that same Holy Spirit
    Your people now inspire.

    Help us to act with justice.
    In everything we do,
    Be tender in our loving
    And humbly walk with you.
    Make us in Christian service
    Community most true
    Devoted to your purpose
    The whole world to renew.

    You Gave Us Lord

    Tune: Rockingham L.M. (When I survey)

    Hymn composed for Diakonia

    You gave us Lord, by word and deed
    The way of love your Father willed
    That those who go where'er you lead
    May find in you a life fulfilled.

    It was your joy to call them blest
    Who poor in spirit choose to be,
    And find themselves of earth possessed.
    The gentle heirs of all they see,

    And blessed too are those who mourn.
    The merciful, the pure of heart.
    And those by thirst and hunger torn
    That justice hold its rightful part.

    Your blessing, Lord, embraces too
    All those who strive that peace may reign,
    Who right uphold and justice do
    And face withal contempt and pain.

    We humbly ask your pardon, Lord;
    The ones that hear are all too few.
    So speak again your healing word
    Our sin forgive, our heart renew.

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