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This month, the tune from the tower of Goddard Chapel is Natalie Sleeth’s 1986 hymn, “Hymn of Promise.”

Natalie Sleeth was one of America’s prolific composers of church music in the mid-late 20th century until her death in 1992. Her tunes and texts are well loved in newer American denominational hymnals — including the hymnal of the United Methodist Church, of which she was a member.

Inspired by a line from T. S. Eliot, the genesis of this hymn grew from the idea that “in our end is our beginning,” the phrase that begins the text’s third stanza. Indeed, the hymn describes the miracle of natural rebirth in springtime as its basis before building upon this idea to use the spring season as a metaphor for the lives of Christians — the experience of rebirth, in Christ, exemplified by Easter (to be celebrated by Western Christians this year on March 27).

The text of the hymn is as follows:

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

A recording of the hymn may be found here: