"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, April 30, 2017

My New Favorite Hymn

I was 10 years old when I played my first hymn in public. Mr. Francis Nunn came and got me out of my 4th grade Sunday School class and took me down to the Men's Bible Class (which was aired live on the radio) and had me accompany the men singing. Since that day, spanning almost half a century now, I have had plenty of opportunities to join with congregations across the state in worship. The problem, however, with being the pianist is that I'm pretty illiterate when it comes to singing the great hymns of faith. After all, I rarely find myself in the congregation. Oh, I know the heart of them, but if I had to put my book down, I wouldn't be able to get very far in the actual verse. And so what I began as a spiritual discipline through Lent, I have continued today. 

Yes, during those 40 days of "fasting and prayer," I also began singing ... particularly the songs of the cross. Each morning I would take a different hymn from Petersen's "The Complete Book of Hymns" (which includes 600 of them), read of its history, its author, and then sing it -- all the verses ... out loud. It was a wonderful routine, "worship" being a better term, and I would often find myself humming the tune throughout the day. And what oftentimes happens, duty turned into delight, and today, I continue the practice.

The book begins with an Adoration and Praise section, with the hymns within arranged in alphabetical order. So Friday morning had me opened to All Creatures of Our God and King, written in the 13th Century by Saint Francis of Assisi. It begins

All Creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
     Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
     O praise Him, O praise Him!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

St. Francis went on to call forth the wind, the clouds, the morning and evening to praise God; along with flowing water, fire and even "most kind and gentle death." Let all things their Creator bless, he writes in the final verse. When I finished, I scribbled "Top 10" in the margin. 

The next morning found me once again out on my deck in my adirondeck before the sun had made its peak and as "all creation" was beginning to find its voice. As I opened the book, I couldn't get past the day's prior. And so I sang it again. But this time, as I finished, I penned my own words to fit my own setting. And these are the words I sang.

Red Bellies from your morning drum,
Gray squirrels halt your play and come,
     O praise Him! Alleluia!
Come nesting pair with all your breed,
Come rabbit who on green does feed.
     O praise Him, O praise Him!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

O hummingbird who's drawn to drink,
Red-wings and Brewers black as ink,
     O praise Him! Alleluia!
O hawk that watches from on high,
Ye geese that trump in pattern fly,
     O praise Him, O praise Him!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Ye croaking frog with forte voice,
Let song of praise be verse of choice.
     O praise Him! Alleluia!
O cardinals, doves and chickadees,
Finch, bluejays, wrens all bow your knee.
     O praise Him, O praise Him!
     Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Yes, ALL creatures of our God and King are bid to come and praise Him. This is your invitation. May you answer with a joyful Alleluia!

Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:21b

Just an ordinary moment....

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