1 O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
We dearly love singing in church. We love our choirs, and singing as a congregation. We love belting out our favorite hymns, clapping along with the praise music, being brought to tears by lyrics. We can get lost in the music and the feelings as we lift our voices and sometimes our hands up to God.
But it looks like we won’t be able to do that for a while. Oh, we get to sing along with the Quarantine Qrew during our online worship on Sunday mornings. But singing alone at home even with the very best singers leading us - and there is no doubt in my mind that ours are indeed the very best - isn’t quite the same as singing in community. But it looks like it will be quite a while before we can be comfortable doing that.
I didn’t grow up with hymns or congregational singing. When I started attending a Disciples congregation in my 40s I didn’t know any of them - except for the ones I learned at Blue Grass Festivals on Sunday mornings. I dearly loved the Gospel music and quickly learned some of the most popular, which I would belt out at the top of my voice in my car or the shower. It was the closest I came to prayer for some years. Over the years in college and seminary I began to become familiar with the hymns in the Chalice Hymnal, but still didn’t know the old favorites. It wasn’t until I started taking a communion service into a women’s retirement community that I had the opportunity to learn some of the old favorites. Now those are the ones that stick in my head as prayers when I am most in need of comfort and solace.
Our hymns are one of the ways we pray. Martin Luther, leader of the Reformation, is reputed to have said “Singing is praying twice.” Whether or not he said these words, they are absolutely true. Prayer is something that we can do in public with everyone else, as when we pray the Lord’s Prayer together. It is also something we do in the privacy of our own homes, or our cars, or wandering around outside. Sometimes those private prayers take the form of song.
Lately I have been waking up with a hymn in my head, a prayer, in fact, that resonates with my heart and soul, and I have been singing throughout these last several days.
I need thee every hour, most gracious Lord.
No tender voice like thine can peace afford.
I need thee, O I need thee.
Every hour I need thee.
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.