Hymns and Songs Collection a Response to Refugee Crisis

INDEPENDENCE, MO (May 19, 2017) – Covenanter David Bjorlin’s newly written hymn text, “Build a Longer Table,” is among 46 selections included in Welcome: Hymns and Songs of Hospitality to Refugees and Immigrants. The collection is published by The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and is available online for free.

The collection was created to help churches respond to the current refugee and immigration crisis, said Bjorlin, who is an adjunct instructor in Christian worship at North Park Theological Seminary and pastor of worship and creative arts at Resurrection Covenant Church in Chicago. He also served on the workgroup that collected the selections.

“I believe that the words we sing in worship not only form what we believe but how we act in the world as Christians,” Bjorlin said. “As we seek to live out God’s call to welcome the stranger and the foreigner in our midst, we need words to sing that will enact that welcome in our churches and live out that welcome in our communities.”

He added, “My own text was written to parallel our fearful response to immigrants and refugees—which has led people to advocate for building walls,
fences, and jails—with the response Christ’s love calls us to—building tables, doorways, refuges of welcome.” The text is set to the tune Noel Nouvelet.

Churches are permitted to use any of the hymns and songs in the collection at no royalty cost for a period of two months. Beyond two months of usage, users must obtain copyright permission in the usual manner via a copyright licensing service or other means.


Build a Longer Table
Set to the tune Noel Nouvelet

Build a longer table, not a higher wall,
feeding those who hunger, making room for all.
Feasting together, stranger turns to friend,
Christ breaks walls to pieces; false divisions end.

Build a safer refuge, not a larger jail;
where the weak find shelter, mercy will not fail.
For any place where justice is denied,
Christ will break the jail walls, freeing all inside.

Build a broader doorway, not a longer fence.
Love protects all people, sparing no expense.
When we embrace compassion more than fear,
Christ tears down our fences: all are welcome here.

When we lived as exiles, refugees abroad,
Christ became our doorway to the reign of God.
So must our tables welcome those who roam.
None can be excluded; all must find a home.

Text: David Bjorlin, © 2017, GIA Publications, Inc.
Used with permission.




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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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