Here I Am, Lord, is a popular catholic hymn that is also recognized as “I, the lord of sea and sky”. The hymn was pen down by Daniel Schutte in the year 1981. The text of this hymn is based on the book of Isaiah six verse eight (6vs8). And also the first book of Samuel three (1Sam 3) and published by Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) Publications. “I, the lord of sea and sky” has metamorphosed into one of the most popular Catholic hymns in use today. However, the Catholic origins of Schutte’s hymn did not stop its acceptability in several worship services.
Also, it is seeing in most Christian hymnbook and has been translated into over 20 languages. In addition, its usage cut across many Papal Masses and at International World Youth Day events.
The Hymn Writer
Daniel L. Schutte, the writer of the hymn, was born in Neenah, Wisconsin in the year 1947. Schutte is a composer of American origin and of Catholic liturgical music. He is also a contemporary Christian songwriter well-known with the hymn “Here I Am, Lord,” he wrote in 1981. The hymn is also known as “I, the lord of sea and sky”.
Schutte was brought up in one of the village in Waukesha County, Wisconsin called Elm Grove. He finished from Marquette University High School and have his bachelor degree in 1973 from St. Louis University (a Catholic Jesuit institution). He also obtained a master of divinity degree at the Jesuit School of Theology and a master’s degree at the Graduate Theological Union. Both at Berkeley in 1979 and 1980 respectively.
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Dan gained his music experience through his grandparents that were accomplished musicians themselves. Schutte loved listening to them when they were playing the piano and he would sit for a longer period at the pianoforte to make up melodies.
Story Behind the Hymn
When he was a young Jesuit as a theological student in Berkeley, one of his friend walk up to his and asked for his favour. The favour his friend asked him was a piece of music that would go along with the text of Isaiah chapter 6 for his diaconate ordination ceremony. Schutte was shocked and his friend could see it. The shock was caused by his awareness that the ceremony was only three days closed. He then told his friend that he was sick with flu and would not promise he could able compose a suitable music within that short time. However, Dan’s friend encouraged him and he told his friend he will only try his best to put something at a very least for the ordination.
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Daniel has always adored that particular Scripture passage (Isaiah 6). This is passage where God calls Isaiah to be his servant and messenger to the people. In which Isaiah not only responded with both doubt and hesitation, but also with a humble willingness to surrender to God wishes. Dan knew that if the composition is going to work it would be by power and grace of God that will make it happen. Just like Isaiah, Daniel Schutte was somehow uncertain that he would meet his friend’s request. Nevertheless he was enthusiastic to put in an effort and he did.
He sat on his desk with unmarked music score in his front and prayed to God to be his strength. At that point of prayer, he recalled the way God called Samuel as well. This is when God came calling Samuel in the middle of the night and asked him to do something besides what he believed he has ability to do. This he put together and worked on the piece for two days that he was exhausted. He later make a last minute changes to the music as he moved toward his friend who stayed some blocks away. Though, Daniel was not really certain of himself but trusting the piece would be what his friend really wanted for the ordination.
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But to Dan’s surprise, the piece was okay because people loved it from the onset. The hymn obviously established the dialogue between God and mankind, the bottom line of the hymn. In fact, in the following years, many people have make him known how they had their personal experience of calling of God in the night and also the given courage they have to answer.
Schutte concluded that the story behind the hymn “Here I am, Lord” revealed of the Lord who is above all, giving strength to our faltering words and the easy labours of our hands, and forging them into substance that can be a grace for people. And conclusively he said: “The power God gives is far beyond what we could have planned or created.” -Dan Schutte
Text and the Tune of the Hymn
The hymn texts begin with the declaration in all of the verses and follow by a response in the refrain. The music for the verses’ melody possess a movement that is full of energy to declare the work of the Lord in creation. Also the unending love He has for that creation, and the call he made for His service.
The repeated refrain of the hymn answered the call He made for His service. This is done with self-dedication by believers’ response in paceful and humbler melody. There is commitment made by believers in the refrain that sound high with an echo. The hymn is a complete work of the American musician Daniel Schutte, who pen down the words and the music.
A noteworthy attribute was observed between the stanzas of the hymn and its refrains. The stanzas present the voice of the Lord in “I”, first person singular. On the other hand, the refrain present the singer’s answer to the last verse of each stanza to offer their lives to the Lord and also in “I”. Each stanza ends with “Whom shall I send?”, a question waiting for an answer The refrain instantly provide the answer with a response, “Here I am, Lord.”