Awake, My Soul, in Joyful Lays

Sometimes I just don’t feel like singing. But first, let me explain…

I grew up in a family that sang often. We sang in church. We sang in the car. We sang outside. We sang around the piano. We sang at school. We all had just ordinary voices, but we sang anyway.

Then I grew up.

Life was hard.

It became harder to sing.

When my Dad got sick with a brain tumor we watched him put his violin aside, and soon his voice was gone too.

It didn’t seem right to sing without him.

After he died it took me a year before I could sing without crying.

Many years later, as my Mother lay dying, the only thing that would make her stop whimpering was if we sang to her. So I found a hymn book and sang softly until my own tears prevented me from continuing. When she would start whimpering again I would sing until she calmed down… until tears choked my voice.

Again and again the cycle repeated itself. Those were hard days, but my sisters and I were glad we could be with her.

There have been other hard days, when singing seemed impossible. Yet, singing should not be dependent on how we feel, but because we owe our God praise.

Below is a song I find myself singing when I don’t feel like singing.

Notice the words in the first verse...”He justly claims a song from me…”

We sing, not because our life is free from trouble. We sing, because we have a Great Redeemer who has rescued our souls from hell.

There will be trouble here. But this isn’t all there is. We have eternity to look forward to. This trouble will seem little when we are face to face with our Savior. In the meantime we remember His care of us in the here and now. We remember that He asks us to sing, to remember, to cling to this God who day by day covers us with His lovingkindness.

David wrote the following words when he had to flee to the wilderness of Judah, when his son, Absalom, took over the throne. (See II Samuel 15:23-30; 17:16)

“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise Thee.

So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Thy name…

For Thou hast been my help, And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.” Psalm 63:3,4 & 9

David wept when he was in trouble, but he also didn’t stop singing. Neither should we.

Samuel Medley 1738-1799

Awake, my soul in joyful lays, And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise; He justly claims a song from me, His lovingkindness, oh, how free! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how free!

He saw me ruined by the fall, Yet loved me not-with-standing all; He saved me from my lost estate, His lovingkindness, oh, how great! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how great!

Tho’ numerous hosts of mighty foes, Tho’ earth and hell my way oppose, He safely leads my soul along, His lovingkindness, oh, how strong! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how strong!

When trouble, like a gloomy cloud, Has gathered thick and thundered loud, He near my soul has always stood, His lovingkindness, oh, how good! Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, oh, how good!

Soon shall we mount and soar away to the bright realms of endless day, And sing, with rapture and surprise, His lovingkindness, in the skies. Lovingkindness, lovingkindness, His lovingkindness, in the skies.

Sometimes a Light Surprises

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William Cowper (pronounced Cooper) was born in 1731. He is considered one of England’s finest poets.

His life was filled with melancholy and sometimes despair, which may have had its roots in his mother’s death when he was only six. He was hospitalized on more than one occasion for “madness”. He wrote many hymns that were full of hope instead of the despair he was so familiar with. (God Moves in a Mysterious Way; There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.)

The following hymn is especially hopeful. The encouragement that comes from singing is in the first line. The original tune is one by Hayden – Petition 76.76D. The words also fit nicely with the tune – Sally Garden. I am unable to record anything this week, since I am out of town with a family emergency, but have included a link below of an unusually beautiful version of this hymn. You will notice some of the words have been changed from the original.

SOMETIMES A LIGHT SURPRISES, Stillwaters Music – YouTube

Sometimes a light surprises the child of God who sings; the light of one who rises with gentle, healing wings.

When comforts are declining, God grants the soul again A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation with joy we shall pursue the theme of God’s salvation, and find it ever new.

Set free from present sorrow we cheerfully can say, let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing but God will bear us through. Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe the people, too.

Beneath the spreading heavens no creature but is fed: the one who feeds the ravens will give the children bread

Though vine and fig tree neither their yearly fruit should bear, though all the fields should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there,

yet God, the same abiding, through praise shall tune my voice, for while in love confiding I cannot but rejoice.

For Further Study: “And he shall be as the light or the morning, like the rising of the sun, A morning without clouds; When from the sunshine, after rain, the green grass springeth after rain.” II Samuel 23:4

Sources:

http://www.hymnary.org;

The Story of the Hymns and Tunes – Theron Brown and Hezekiah Butterworth – copyright 1906 American Tract Society

All Glory, Laud and Honor

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This Latin hymn was written by Theodulph of Orleans in A.D. 820. It was translated into English by John Mason Neale in the 1800s. The tune was written by Melchior Teschner about 1613. The tune is called St. Theodulph.

Theodulph was born in Spain. He was part of Charlemagne’s court and became a trusted theological adviser. When Charlemagne’s son, Louis the I, became King he became suspicious that Theodulph was sympathetic with his Spanish relative, Bernard. Fearing there was a conspiracy he had Theodulph imprisoned in a monastery in Angers in 818. Theodulph wrote this hymn while in prison. He died there in 821.

Please sing this with me. (I prefer not to sing alone.)

All Glory, Laud and Honor

All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer, King

To whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel, Thou David’s royal Son,

Who in the Lord’s name comest, The King and Blessed One.

The company of angels are praising Thee on high,

And mortal men and all things Created make reply.

The people of the Hebrews with palms before Thee went;

Our praise and prayer and anthems before Thee we present.

To Thee, before Thy passion, They sang their hymns of praise;

To Thee, now high exalted, Our melody we raise.

Thou didst accept their praises; accept the praise we bring.

Who in all good delightest, Thou good and gracious King.

For further study:

Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; Speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually. Psalm 105:1-4

And as He was approaching…, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King, who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” And He answered and said, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” Luke 19:37-40