PART 1
1 Listen, my friends, to each word;
let my teaching be faithfully heard:
parables hidden of old
our parents have told.
So let us not hide them, but speak in our turn
God's wonders, so that our children can learn
the truth we are eager to tell,
the law he gave Israel;
then children yet to be
will pass on their faith to their family
so they will trust in him
and not let the memory dim.

2 Some have rejected God's law,
turned their backs on the wonders they saw,
miracles done by his hand
in old Egypt's land.
He cut through the sea and let none of them fall,
the waters he made stand up like a wall;
the cloud was a guide in their flight
the fire a pillar by night:
he split rocks in the drought
abundance of water came flowing out;
the streams came from the stone
and rivers of water poured down.

3 God and his word they defy,
become rebels against the Most High,
treating their Lord as a slave,
demand what they crave.
'Can God give us food like this drink from the earth?
A table, spread to supply all our dearth?
He gave us a river indeed,
but bread is what people need!'
Then God broke out in flame
when they did not trust in his holy name;
the Lord's command was given
to open the windows of heaven.

PART 2
4 God gave them manna like rain
and from heaven provided their grain;
bread of the angels to eat
till they were replete.
The wind he set free from the skies in the east,
the south wind blew to replenish their feast
with food till they needed no more
and quails like sand on the shore:
their camp was covered round
among all their tents and across the ground;
but God was moved to wrath
young men were cut down in their path.

5 Spurning the gifts they received
they refused to repent and believe,
ending their days full of fears,
in weakness their years.
While still under judgement they cried in their pain
'God help us!' to their Redeemer again
and though all the prayers they said
arose from hearts that were dead,
the Lord forgave them all;
in mercy he listened and heard their call,
those creatures of a day,
a breath that is passing away!

6 Time and again they rebelled,
their devotion and trust they withheld,
putting their God to the test
and losing their rest.
The rivers of Egypt had turned into blood,
frogs jumping everywhere, gnats like a flood,
came flies and the plague, boils and hail,
and locusts, darkness prevailed;
and then, each firstborn son
struck down on the Passover night, each one;
but God's flock safely led,
protected and guided and fed.

PART 3
7 Up to the hill he had brought,
to the holy land which they had sought,
God saw the tribes safely come
and gave them their home.
But just as their fathers had done long before
disloyal, faithless, they sinned even more,
they tested and flouted his rule
served idols and played the fool:
the true God gave them up,
removing their sanctuary and their hope;
the ark passed from the land
and into the enemy's hand.

8 Death came to men young and strong
and the maidens had no wedding song;
people and priest to the sword
by word from the Lord!
Until once again as from sleep he awoke,
he rose up, enemy power he broke,
took Judah, the tribe of his love,
Mount Zion, towering above,
and David, from the sheep,
to shepherd his people, to guard and keep;
for God's word will not break,
his flock he will never forsake.

Based on Psalm 78
Suggestions for singing: Use one or two parts only, but include verse 1; or select verses that make sense consecutively (1,2,4,6 or 1,4,7,8 etc); or divide into two groups to sing alternately.
Tune: GO TELL EVERYONE ('God's Spirit is in my heart')

Christopher Idle
© Christopher Idle/Jubilate Hymns Ltd