Thursday, February 19, 2009

At the works of God's hands, I sing for joy

On a snowy Ohio morning, I'm on my way to practice at church. One of our hymns this week is "Arise, Your Light Has Come" (the tune of "Rise up, O Saints of God"), and it's one for which I always struggle to find the appropriate tempo. The Musicians Guide to the ELW lists a range of 62 - 70 for the half note, placing it in the category of a fast march. In fact, I find that when played as slow as 62, the tactus shifts to the quarter note and the hymn begins to feel too much like an army marching through mud.

Now, some hymns truly are marches ("Onward Christian Soldiers," to name the obvious one). For me, though, the text of "Arise" is just too joyous and enthusiastic for me to allow it to plod, and I've been known to push the tempo as fast as 80 bpm. At that tempo, it becomes a lyric piece that does inspire me to rise up and take action.

The best hymns, the best Bible verses, the best sermons - they all inspire us to act on our Christian faith and live it fully on a day-to-day basis. That's what the hymn does for me when I play it, and I want to share that with the congregation on Sunday. So hum a few bars of ELW 314 at some point today, acting out the psalmist's decree to declare steadfast love of God in the morning and evening to the music of lute, harp, and lyre (Psalm 92, paraphrase). Tell me if that faster tempo and that inspiring text don't provide the imptus for you to do everything in your day a little better and with a smile - despite the snow in your driveway.

1 comment:

  1. I've always enjoyed that hymn at a faster tempo - due in part to the men's choral arrangement's I have heard.