Some random pastoral ponderings…
“Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
I was making a communion visit to one of our members. When I arrived, she was watching one of the all-day news channels and throughout our visit I could hear the T.V. in the background.
After visiting for a while, we shared communion. During the whole communion liturgy, the newscaster rambled on in the background, analyzing the election campaign, ranting about the violence between the police and Afro-Americans, and second-guessing all the plays of the latest Twins games…and on and on. What struck me was that in the midst of the cacophony on the television, the words we heard were, “This is my body…this is my blood…given and shed for you”.
It occurred to me that this incident was a metaphor for the world we live in. In the midst of all the clamoring voices competing for our attention, babbling inconsequentially, there is one voice that comes through all the nattering and chattering…the voice of the Lord saying, “I love you. You are mine”.
It is my prayer that in the midst of the multitude of voices begging for your attention, criticizing you for your faults and shortcomings, yammering away at you, you may be able to hear the voice of God calling out to you, “I love you. You are mine. Come, follow me”.
Music to Our Ears
Each month we plan to include a little article about a favorite hymn. If you have a favorite hymn you would like featured in this space, please send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like, you could include a little story explaining why this is your favorite hymn.
This month’s hymn is familiar to us all because we sing it at the close of our worship every week, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.
Thomas Ken, the writer of this hymn, was born in 1637 in Little Berkhampstead on the fringes of Greater London. When his parents died, he was raised by his half-sister and her husband, who enrolled him in Winchester College, an historic boy’s school. He was later ordained to the ministry and returned to Westchester as a chaplain.
To encourage the devotional habits of the boys, Thomas wrote three hymns in 1674. This was revolutionary because English hymns had not yet appeared. Only the Psalms were sung in public worship. Ken suggested that the boys use the hymns privately in their rooms. One hymn was to be sung when they woke up, another at bedtime, and another at midnight if they couldn’t sleep.
His evening hymn has also become a favorite and includes this verse:
All praise to thee, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, beneath Thine own almighty wings.
All three hymns ended with the same stanza, which has since become the most widely sung verse in the world. We know it as the Doxology.
In 1680, Thomas was appointed chaplain to England’s King Charles II. It was a tough job as Charles kept a variety of mistresses. Once, the king asked Ken if one of his mistresses could stay in the chaplain’s residence! Of course, he refused.
During the reign of the next king, James II, Thomas, who was now a bishop, was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his Protestant convictions. After his release, he moved to the home of a wealthy friend, where he died on March 11, 1711. The Doxology was sung at his funeral.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) (Excerpted from Then Sings My Soul, Robert J. Morgan, p.111)