Friday, July 31, 2009

Lift Every Voice and Sing

This Sunday is our summer hymn sing, a great opportunity to celebrate some of our favorite hymns and lift our voices in prayer and praise. Be sure to sing loud and strong! These are hymns everyone will know, after all, and there are few things in life more inspiring than the confident melding of voices on the great hymns of faith.

You'll be hearing a bit of history and information about each hymn on Sunday, so I won't take the time or space now for that background on each hymn. I do, however, want to draw your attention to the variety of moods and expression that our hymnal covers. We will begin with "Gather Us In," a modern tune that sums up the fellowship of corporate worship.

We will continue with the bombastic "Crown Him with Many Crowns," which will contrast with the reverent prayer of "Beautiful Savior." The mood will be lighter (and the kids will hopefully join in loudly as well) when we sing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." The service will close with two rousing hymns of faith and evangelism: "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

Last Sunday, Pastor Uhle reminded us of two topics related to those last two hymns. First, it is important that churches remain growing, thriving hubs of spiritual activity and fellowship. For some people, that means volunteering with the building committee work days or altar guild. For others, it means quilters or Young at Heart activities. Of course, the church is full of volunteers and leaders, but we always welcome more. As a musician, I'd be most thrilled to see more people in the choir or playing instruments or simply providing input for the music program. Ask yourself if you can be more active as a "Christian Soldier" or if there are more ways you can contribute your voice to the congregation.

Second, Pastor Uhle reminded us that the ELCA's Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis is less than three weeks away. Among the topics that body will consider are full communion with the United Methodist Church, the rostering of gay and lesbian ministers, and a statement on human sexuality. All three matters are votes of inclusion, collaboration, and fellowship. My prayer during "Lift Every Voice and Sing" will be that the ELCA continues to move toward a future where truly every voice is welcomed and valued.

I won't quote the text of that hymn here, since you can read it on Sunday, but instead I'll share some lyrics from the Broadway musical Ragtime, with a similar sentiment set to a soaring tune at the end of the show:

Go out and tell the story.
Let it echo far and wide.
Make them hear you...

My path may lead to heaven or hell
And God will say what's best
But one thing he will never say
Is that I went quietly to my rest...

Proclaim it from your pulpit,
In your classroom, with your pen.
Teach every child to raise his voice
And then, my brothers, then

Will justice be demanded
By ten million righteous men.
Make them hear you...

1 comment:

  1. Inclusion seems to be large part of Jesus' message. I wonder, if He had said "come sing in my choir" instead of "follow me" whether He would have had any takers? Come on people, you are being called!