Emily's Hymn History:
"All Are Welcome"
This hymn, and accompanying hymn tune, were written by Marty Haugen in
1994. Mary Haugen is an American composer of liturgical music and while he is a
member of the United Church of Christ, he regularly writes contemporary hymns
and liturgies for the Lutheran church. His hymns have also found favor in other
Protestant congregations as well as some liberal Roman Catholic congregations. A
few of his other familiar hymns in our red hymnal are “Awake! Awake, and Greet
the New Morn” (#242), “As the Grains of Wheat” (#465), “Joyous Light of
Heavenly Glory” (#561), and “Healer of Our Every Ill” (612).
Haugen states in an email to the publishers of our current hymnal that he
wrote this hymn in “an attempt to write a text that reflects the welcome to table
fellowship that Jesus offered unconditionally to everyone.” The hymn tune was
dedicated to his uncle and aunt, Gene and Peggy Figliulo. Haugen originally
considered the tune Kingsfold (#215) for his text, but it didn’t quite fit. The text
“all are welcome” was very important to the overall hymn and it needed an extra
tag at the end for this refrain. Thus the tune Two Oaks was composed, which is the
only hymn tune for this hymn and hasn’t been used for any other text. The tune
was named after the home of the Figliulo’s, who named their home because of the
two large beautiful oak trees that face the home.
This is one of my favorite hymns and one of the only hymns where I was first
drawn by the text instead of the tune. It creates a powerful message of love and
hope and faith and the promise that, no matter what baggage or sin or sorrow we
bring, we are welcome in God’s house. In this same way, I see it as a welcome to all
people into our congregation. “Here the love of God, through, Jesus, is revealed in
time and space; as we share in Christ the feast that frees us: All are welcome in this
place.” Through the love of God and in partaking of the feast, we are freed of our
sin. We are loved, every single one of us.
Blessings, Emily Brands Minister of Music