I have had music filling my mind all this past week. Not unusual, by any means, but this week, certain choral works and hymns have entered and stayed – brief snatches, a line or two, over and over. All of them were music included in the funeral service for our retired bishop, George Councell.
I decided I wanted to sing in the choir, so when the invitation came out via email, Iaccepted. Carmen (Antonia Mattei’s sister) and our own David White, bass extraordinaire, signed up as well.
The anthem was sent to us via email. Though it was very familiar to me, I did need to do a significant amount of review and stretching my voice to have it all come back together. The phrase that caught me early and stayed was, “They sing Thy praise evermore…”partly, I think, because it falls in the most difficult section of the anthem where there are a lot ofnotes all moving rapidly, and it’s very easy to get off the rails both in pitch and timing.
But I think it is also the words, and the image they invoke: the vast throng of those who have gone before, gathered before the throne of God, and singing in praise – for evermore! What an image! The faces and the memories of every loved one who has gone before, still missed and longed for, and yet, there, before the throne of God, singing.
The other bit of music just showed up in my mind yesterday afternoon, from that same service onTuesday: “It is well, it is well with my soul…” This is the refrain of a hymn written by HoratioSpafford after many tragedies and trials in his own life. You can read about it here: https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-it-is-well-with-my-soul
The refrain is gentle, mostly on one note, and feels like a refrain to prayer.
Photos and information, including a pdf of the service booklet may be found elsewhere in this eblast.
I find these and other bits and snatches of hymns, scripture and poems help to guide and shape my prayer, often in unexpected times, places and ways. When I pay attention, and allow them to fill my mind and my heart, the blessings that arrive are pure gifts from God.
Let us pray:
O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth: Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Peace and blessing,