Weekly letter from St Luke's - 23 September 2020
Dear Parish Friends
I gain much inspiration from the daily readings of Evening Prayer. Tonight we read from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6,18b-20)
When we meet together we sing because in essence, we do what the people of God have done through the ages; they hear about what God does and sing about it. The Israelites knew this well, and we still use their hymn book, the Psalms, which reflect on all aspects of life with God, both joy and lament. But this is not the limit of such music. Many passages from the prophets are hymns to God, and the New Testament too is full of song. Just look at the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke: Mary sings her Magnificat, Zechariah the Benedictus, the angels their Gloria in Excelsis Deo and Simeon the Nunc Dimitis. Then next Sunday we will hear the ancient Christian hymn to Christ, Philippians 2:6-11 (about which I will say more at the weekend, but do go and read this now!).
Many people over the centuries have adapted these words of scripture to metrical hymns and, as we sing them the words can imbue within our soul. So not only do we sing as a response to what God has promised, but they can also (at least the better biblically based songs) help us to worship God with better understanding. The likes of Charles Wesley, John Newton, Isaac Watts and Fanny Crosby are joined with the modern writers like Timothy Dudley-Smith, Keith Getty, Stuart Townend and Graham Kendrick to help us connect with each other and with God.
It has been said that biologically singing and crying are similar. When we sing together we cry together, in times of joy and sorrow, celebration and lament. We are, as St Paul says, filled with the spirit.
Our final hymn this coming Sunday at 9am is based on Isaiah 55:12 is a song of joy and mission:
You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace, and the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you. There’ll be shouts of joy and the trees of the field shall clap, shall clap their hands,
With blessings for the week ahead.
Yours in Christ