Hymns we love to sing
Patrick Appleford [b. 1925]
Lord Jesus Christ you have come to us
You are one with us, Mary's Son.
Cleansing our souls from all their sin
pouring Your love and goodness in
Jesus our love for you we sing,
Lord Jesus Christ now and every day
Teach us how to pray, Son of God.
You have commanded us to do
this in remembrance Lord of you
Into our lives your power breaks through,
Lord Jesus Christ, you have come to us
Born as one with us, Mary's Son.
Led out to die on Calvary,
risen from death to set us free,
living Lord Jesus help us see
You are Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ I would come to you
live my life for you, Son of God.
All your commands I know are true,
your many gifts will make me new,
into my life your power breaks through,
Patrick Appleford was born in 1925 and felt a vocation to the priesthood whilst studying at Trinity College, Cambridge. He trained for the ministry at Chichester Theological College and served as Curate of All Saints’ Poplar in the East End of London from 1952 to 1958.
As a young priest Appleford ministered in the London docklands at a time of great social change. He put his skills to good use by writing pantomimes for the Youth Club and contemporary hymns to be sung in Church.
In collaboration with his former College Chaplain, Geoffrey Beaumont, Appleford founded the Twentieth Century Church Light Music Group. Beaumont was an Anglican Priest and a member of the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield.
The writing partnership produced a number of hymns and Mass settings in the style of 1950’s popular music. Though these were often derided by the Church musicians of the day the two priests were under no allusion that their words and music would stand the test of time. Their aim was not to write hymns that lasted but ones that communicated the Gospel message to a younger generation which was becoming increasingly alienated from the Church.
This said, Living Lord has made its way into hymnody’s hall of fame. It’s a very good example, like Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance and Graham Kendrick’s Servant King, of how a modern hymn can make the sometimes difficult transition from contemporary to traditional.
It’s often said that Living Lord was inspired by Cliff Richard’s hit Living Doll, which was top of the pops for six weeks in 1959. Living Doll had been composed by the celebrated Lionel Bart, who went on to write the hugely successful musical Oliver in 1960.
Appleford’s hymn was written for Holy Communion. It celebrates the birth, teaching ministry, saving death and resurrection of the living Lord. Though the words are skilfully crafted they are also very easy to understand. They tell the story of the Christ, Mary’s Son, who was born as one of us and who died and conquered the grave to set us free. The last verse takes up a theme of the first - as the living Lord has come to us so we would come to him.
After leaving the East End of London in 1958 Patrick Appleford lectured for a time in a theological college. He worked for a missionary society, became Dean of Lusaka Cathedral in Zambia and was Director of Education in the Diocese of Chelmsford. Over fifty years on he is still writing and composing. He named the tune he wrote for the words Living Lord.