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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 31:30—32:14           

Then Moses recited the words of this song, to the very end, in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop like the rain, my speech condense like the dew; like gentle rain on grass, like showers on new growth. For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God, without deceit, just and upright is he; yet his degenerate children have dealt falsely with him, a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?

Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you. When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; the Lord’s own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share. He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young; as it spreads its wings, takes them up, and bears them aloft on its pinions, the Lord alone guided him; no foreign god was with him. He set him atop the heights of the land, and fed him with produce of the field; he nursed him with honey from the crags, with oil from flinty rock; curds from the herd, and milk from the flock, with fat of lambs and rams; Bashan bulls and goats, together with the choicest wheat—you drank fine wine from the blood of grapes. (NRSV)

When my wife’s grandmother was nearing her death, she was unable to see and found it difficult to communicate with those around her, but she was still able to sing the hymns she had grown up with. I remember hearing her gently sing “Open My Eyes, That I May See” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” along with many others. These beautiful hymns with their messages of love and hope had stayed with her from her childhood and were with her even now, at her end. Music enters our hearts, minds, and even our souls and lingers there even when we are not aware of it. It shapes who we are and what we are becoming. It can reshape us and transform us, bringing peace and healing.

Moses also knew and understood this. He knew that words set to music will stay with us and linger in our memories. In Deuteronomy 31:30 we learn that “Moses recited the words of this song, to the very end, in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel.”

The hymns that we sing each Sunday are shaping who we are and what we are becoming. It does not matter how well we sing them, but only that we are singing—singing them with energy and fervor, singing them boldly and with intentionality. Not only are we changing ourselves in that singing, but we are being changed together as we are united in thought and prayer, united in breath as we breathe together with each phrase. As we breathe together even our hearts begin to pulse together. The power of singing transforms us not only as individuals but transforms the entire community.

Loving God, thank you for the gift of music that transforms us from our childhood, sustains us throughout our lives, and is with us even at our end, bringing hope and peace. Amen.

Written John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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