Let this mind be in me

*** A congregational hymn, especially suitable for Palm Sunday. It is best sung in four-part harmony.


The palms have been blessed; there may have been a procession to represent Christ’s coming to Jerusalem; worshippers are poised between these joyful moments and the imminent recounting of the Passion. This liturgy enacts a drama of cosmic significance.

Now, more than ever, we need to sense our place on this great stage. We need personally to be able to express a response to what has taken place, to what still happens all around and within us. Both the Second Servant Song (Isaiah 50.4-9a) and the Hymn to the Kenotic Christ (Philippians 2.5-11, which was already being sung in the Aramaic-speaking church before Paul inserted it into his letter to the Philippians) can help us get a handle on it all.

These two celebrated texts are the source material for this hymn. The only idea in the hymn that isn’t in the Scriptures is our response here and now. Where Paul writes Let this mind be in you…the worshipper sings “Let this mind be in me…” as a refrain.

Paul emphasised that Christ Jesus…humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death. Jesus was crucified, not because he sought that fate, but because he obeyed God. This humble obedience was explosive in its effects:

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! (Luke 12.49-51)

If the idea of introducing an unfamiliar hymn on Palm Sunday seems too difficult, it can be simplified by teaching just the refrain to the congregation, with the verses sung by a smaller group or choir. Both refrain and verse are kept simple through moving the melody lines by ‘step’; that is to say, nearly every next note is just one step up or down from the one that preceded it. In the whole hymn there are only six musical intervals, and none of them is musically testing.

The hymn needs to flow smoothly; without dragging, yet not so fast that in the last line of the verse the quaver movements in the tenor and bass parts have to be rushed.

The tune’s name DORHOWTHOM commemorates a friend, Dorothy Howell-Thomas, a distinguished Church of England analyst and commentator on issues of social responsibility, who had also been Archbishop William Temple’s secretary. Dorothy died on the day this hymn was completed.