“The Servant Song” by Richard Gillard

Written by British New Zealander Richard Gillard in 1977, “The Servant Song” (CCLI #72673) is such a beautiful expression of the Christian call to community and friendship, marked by selfless service, a walking alongside, and the bearing of one another’s joys, sorrows, and fears.

Here’s a 2015 performance by Father Cyprian Consiglio, prior of New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, California, and Brother James Makil:

And, from 2017, a performance by Lowana Wallace [previously], accompanied by Matt Froese on guitar. Wallace has one of the most gorgeous voices I’ve heard.

The first line was originally written as “Brother, let me be your servant” but has since been updated to be gender-inclusive, as either “Brother, sister, let me serve you” or “Will you let me be your servant.” Wallace uses “Sister” as the address in the first verse and then “Brother” in the repeat of that verse at the end.

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant too

We are pilgrims on a journey
Fellow travelers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the nighttime of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through

When we sing to God in heaven
We will find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony

Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant too

Jesus’s words to his disciples in Matthew 20:26–28 inspired the song’s main theme: “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Other scriptural allusions include “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matt. 5:41), “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15), and “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

Wayfaring Stranger (Artful Devotion)

Painting by Andrew Gadd
Painting by Andrew Gadd (British, 1968–)

Our citizenship is in heaven . . .

—Philippians 3:20

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SONG: “Wayfaring Stranger” | 19th-century American folk song | Performed by Rhiannon Giddens (banjo, vocals) and Phil Cunningham (accordion) for BBC Northern Ireland, 2016

This “world of woe” is not our home; we’re just temporary residents. St. Paul reminds us that we are citizens of a new world, and while this statement needs a lot of fleshing out (hence the development of systematic “kingdom theologies”), the well-known American folk lament “Wayfaring Stranger” emphasizes simply, soul-baringly, the longing aspect of it, that anticipation of returning to the “bright land” of our (re)birth, “no more to roam.”

The Wikipedia entry for the song contains a select list of diverse covers, classical music adaptations, and appearances on television and film. Other versions I like are by the Crofts family (previously), Sister Sinjin, and Brent Timothy Miller.


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To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for the Second Sunday in Lent, cycle C, click here.