Here I Am, Lord

Album: Walking the Sacred Path (1981)
  • Dan Schutte is a member of The St. Louis Jesuits, a group of musicians belonging to the Society of Jesus that compose Catholic liturgical music in a folk music style.

    In the late 1970s, Schutte was studying theology in Berkeley, California, when one of his friends asked him to write a song for a diaconate ordination Mass. This Christian hymn, also known by its first line, "I, the Lord of Sea and Sky", was the tune he came up with. The words are based on three Old Testament passages: Isaiah 6:8, 1 Samuel 3 and Jeremiah 1 4-8. "Here I Am, Lord" was published in 1981.
  • Schutte recalled the story of the song during a 2019 episode of BBC's Songs of Praise: "One of my clear memories of 'I, the Lord of Sea and Sky' was sitting at my desk with a blank piece of paper in front of me saying a prayer to God: 'Where do I begin?' Somehow I was led to those stories of the call of the prophets; Jeremiah, Samuel and Isaiah in the Old Testament. And as I read those stories it clicked for me."
  • A major inspiration was the passage in Jeremiah 1, where the prophet expresses his self-doubt to God about his calling. Over the course of two days writing the hymn, Schutte changed the words from a confident "Here I am, Lord; here I stand, Lord" to a more hesitant: "Here I am, Lord; is it I, Lord?"
  • The hymn was well-received and is now sung in many Catholic and Protestant worship services. Schutte attributes its success to the honest human element within "Here I Am."

    "I believe that Here I Am Lord is popular because of the relationship that it sets up with a very personal God," he said. "Some of the hymns that we write are about God. Here I Am Lord is actually formed and fashioned and structured as a conversation. It's a dialogue between God and us.
  • In 2019 "I, the Lord Of Sea And Sky" was voted the United Kingdom's 10th favorite hymn in a poll by BBC's Songs of Praise program.


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