“Bless, O Lord, us Thy servants who minister in Thy temple. Grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts we may show forth in our lives. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
I have always loved this prayer, in part because of the way it orders our act of singing. We pray that we might believe what we sing. We pray that we might then carry that belief forth into the world. But the singing comes first. We begin by singing.
As we gather as a community to worship, we each bring the celebrations and challenges of our daily lives. We bring our doubts and fears over the state of our world. Sometimes we struggle to find a place for our beliefs in the context of this world, and amidst the difficulties we sometimes face in our lives. And yet, we sing. We sing even when we are unsure. We begin by singing.
A couple of weeks ago, we sang one of my favorite hymns. Herbert Howells wrote the tune “Michael” and chose its accompanying text in the wake of his young son’s death from polio. I’m sure that Howells himself struggled to believe these words, and struggled to live them out in his life. And yet, he sings: “All my hope on God is founded. He doth still my hope renew. Me through change and chance he guideth, only good and only true. God unknown, he alone calls my heart to be his own.”
Elizabeth Lenti, Assistant Organist and Choirmaster