I, The Lord of Sea and Sky
“Here I Am, Lord,” also known as “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky,” is a popular Catholic hymn penned by Daniel Schutte in 1981.
The hymn’s text is based on Isaiah 6:8 and 1 Samuel 3 and was published by Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) Publications.
“I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” has become one of the most widely sung Catholic hymns and is embraced in various worship services beyond Catholic origins.
It is also featured in numerous Christian hymnbooks and has been translated into over 20 languages. The hymn is frequently used in Papal Masses and International World Youth Day events.
The Hymn Writer
Daniel L. Schutte, the composer of the hymn “Here I Am, Lord,” was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, in 1947. He is known for his contributions to Catholic liturgical music as a contemporary Christian songwriter.
Schutte grew up in Elm Grove, a village in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. He attended Marquette University High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University, a Catholic Jesuit institution, in 1973.
Continuing his education, Schutte obtained a master of divinity degree from the Jesuit School of Theology and a master’s degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley in 1979 and 1980, respectively.
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Dan gained his musical inspiration from his accomplished grandparents, who were skilled musicians themselves. He enjoyed listening to their piano playing and would spend extended periods at the piano, creating his own melodies.
Story Behind The Hymn I, The Lord of Sea and Sky
When he was a young Jesuit and theological student in Berkeley, one of his friends approached him with a favor. The friend requested a piece of music to accompany the text of Isaiah chapter 6 for his upcoming diaconate ordination ceremony.
Schutte was taken aback by the request, as the ceremony was only three days away. He expressed his concern to his friend, explaining that he was currently ill with the flu and couldn’t promise to compose suitable music within such a short timeframe.
However, Dan’s friend encouraged him, and he agreed to do his best to create something, even if it was a modest contribution, for the ordination.
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Daniel always held a deep admiration for the Scripture passage in Isaiah 6. It tells the story of God’s call to Isaiah to serve as His messenger to the people. Isaiah’s initial doubts and hesitations were met with humble surrender to God’s will. Daniel recognized that any success in composing the piece would be through the power and grace of God.
Similar to Isaiah, Daniel Schutte felt uncertain about meeting his friend’s request. Nonetheless, he approached the task with enthusiasm and determination. Sitting at his desk with a blank music score before him, he prayed for strength and recalled the story of God’s call to Samuel.
Drawing inspiration from Samuel’s call in the middle of the night, when he was asked to do something beyond his perceived abilities, Daniel began working on the piece. Exhausted after two days of intense effort, he made a last-minute change to the music. With uncertainty lingering, he trusted that the composition would truly reflect his friend’s desired tone for the ordination ceremony.
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To Dan’s surprise, the piece was well-received, as people loved it right from the start. The hymn effectively conveyed the dialogue between God and humanity, which was its core message.
Over the years, many individuals shared with Dan their personal experiences of being called by God in the night and finding the courage to respond.
Reflecting on the story behind the hymn “Here I Am, Lord,” Schutte recognized that it revealed the Lord’s presence, providing strength to our feeble words and the simple work of our hands, transforming them into something that can be a source of grace for others.
In conclusion, he remarked, “The power God bestows goes beyond anything we could have planned or created.” Dan Schutte
Text And Tune Of The Hymn
The lyrics of the hymn “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” start with a declaration in each verse, followed by a response in the refrain.
The melody of the verses carries an energetic movement, emphasizing the Lord’s work in creation, His boundless love for all creation, and His call to serve Him.
The hymn’s repeated refrain echoes the believers’ response to God’s call for service, expressed with dedication and humility in a peaceful melody.
The refrain signifies the believers’ commitment, resounding with a strong echo. The hymn is the creation of American musician Daniel Schutte, who wrote both the lyrics and the music.
A notable distinction can be observed between the stanzas and refrains of the hymn. The stanzas represent the voice of the Lord using “I”, while the refrains express the response of the singer, also using “I”.
At the end of each stanza, the question “Whom shall I send?” is posed, awaiting an answer. The refrain promptly provides the answer with the response, “Here I am, Lord.”
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