Hymn #504: You Walk along Our Shoreline

Sylvia G. Dunstan (1955-1993) wrote this text in 1984 after reading an article in which fishing was used as a metaphor for ministry.  She drew upon a number of stories from the Gospels to speak of Jesus’ invitation to the disciples that they follow him and become fishers of a different type.

Sylvia G. Dunstan was born in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada, and attended high school there.  She received a baccalaureate degree in history from York University in Toronto.  A minister in the United Church of Canada, Dunstan accumulated an extensive collection of hymnals, works by women poets, and the writings of Søren Kierkegaard.

This traditional Irish melody, SALLEY GARDENS, was newly harmonized as a setting for this text in The New Century Hymnal by assistant music editor Jonathan McNair.  Traditional Irish melodies often accompanied ballads or dances and were sung with great emotion whenever people gathered for communal activities and fun.

The poignant Irish melody SALLEY GARDENS is typical of other Irish ballads with a nearly pentatonic melody.  One can imagine it being played simply by a fiddle and a flute in its country of origin.