How often in a worship service do we pay attention to the words of the hymns we sing?
How often do we think about the planning of the worship service? The choice of the hymns to ‘fit’ the lectionary or church season?
Did you notice how all of the hymns on April 17
th fit the season?
A hymn can ‘set me off’ and the tears come and the ‘lump in my throat’. The memories of singing hymns around the piano every Sunday night at home, or a certain hymn reminding me of a specific person, time or place, or ‘piercing my heart’.
Our daughter Sarah, is an Episcopalian and through her I am introduced to Lenten and Advent devotions from Episcopal Relief and Development. This devotion written by Esther Cohen, COO of Episcopal Relief & Development, spoke to me and I hope it will speak to you in this Eastertide.
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”
[page 475 in the hymnal]
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
“All to often during worship, I get to the end of a hymn that I’ve just sung and realize that I haven’t paid any attention to the lyrics. Any of them. I’ve been on autopilot, belting out all-too-familiar words, lustily adding harmonies and the “Amen” and then moving on to the next part of worship.
“But the lyrics of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” pierce my heart, every time. I simply can’t be on autopilot when singing what feels like a bold confession: I am not a faithful servant of God. In fact, not only do I stray from the right paths, but I also feel myself straying. How can I sing, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,” without getting a lump in my throat? Fortunately, at Episcopal Relief & Development, I take comfort and strength from my colleagues whose lives are dedicated to nurturing and feeding and walking in solidarity with our partners around the globe.
“And if I need role models for staying the course, I think of our sisters and brothers throughout the world who overcome great challenges to serve their families, their communities and their God. Who nudges you back on the path? What keeps you from wandering? Who are your spiritual role models? “
Pat Sheafor, Author