Guard Us Waking, Guard Us Sleeping

Another lullaby.


All Thy Works Shall Praise Thy Name

This is one of my favorite hymns.  Although it is difficult to hear the words in this recording, I love the majesty and awe reflected in the organ accompaniment.  It is so fitting.

The text:

1 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

2 Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
which wert and art and evermore shalt be.

3 Holy, Holy, Holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
perfect in pow’r, in love, and purity.

4 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Merciful and mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

This Conjunction of Deaths

From tomorrow’s church bulletin at Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church, suggested “thoughts to ponder during the organ prelude”:

Our Scriptures are full of this suffering and death language: the Gospel passion stories spill over into the Epistles and the apocalypse—our sufferings continuously set in the context of Christ’s sufferings;  Christ’s suffering placed is insistently alongside ours.
Jesus died.  There is no avoiding this.  This is fundamental.  And I am somehow or other going to die.  There is no avoiding this: this is fundamental.  This conjunction of deaths, Jesus’ and mine, is where I begin to understand and receive salvation.
                                                – Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.

Born in Chains

Now that I’ve put away all my Advent and Christmas music I looked for something I haven’t heard in a while to entertain me while I cook and bake today, awaiting a brief visit from friends.  I chose Leonard Cohen’s Popular Problems CD.  The last two songs, “Born in Chains” and “You Got Me Singing” remind me of Dylan, and Christianity.  I hope Cohen knew Who he was addressing in the ultimate sense.

I was born in chains but I was taken out of Egypt
I was bound to a burden, but the burden it was raised
Lord I can no longer keep this secret
Blessed is the name, the name be praised
I fled to the edge of a mighty sea of sorrow
Pursued by the riders of a cruel and dark regime
But the waters parted and my soul crossed over
Out of Egypt, out of Pharaoh’s dream
Word of words and the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest
I was idled with my soul, when I heard that you could use me
I followed very closely, but my life remained the same
But then you showed me where you had been wounded
In every atom broken is a name
I was alone on the road, your love was so confusing
All my teachers told me I had myself to blame
But in the grip of sensual illusion
The sweet unknowing unifies a name
Word of words, and the measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest
I’ve heard the soul unfolds in the chambers of its longing
And the bitter liquor sweetens in the amber cup
But all the ladders of the night have fallen
Only darkness now, to lift the longing up
Word of words and measure of all measures
Blessed is the name, the name be blessed
Written on my heart in burning letters
That’s all I know, I cannot read the rest.
Christians believe we are all born in chains, and it is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (“broken in every atom)” that breaks the chain of sin and covers us with the righteousness of Christ.  It is a gift…the water parts and we walk over into the very presence of God, based solely on the gift.
Romans 8: 1-4  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by flesh, could not do.  By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

A Worship Service

My brother, William, like me, also belongs to a Presbyterian church.  Just as Seventh Day Baptist (the denomination in which we were raised) worship service structure differs among congregations, so does that in Presbyterian congregations.   William’s church observes communion every week.  I can not think of a better way to  worship.  Observing Communion reminds us why we are Christian.  It takes away our pride.  It unites us to each other in Christ.

A recent bulletin:








All Is Not Dead

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 7.18.07 AM.pngOne of the blogs I regularly read is Patrick Kurps’s “Anecdotal Evidence.”  Today he shared a sonnet by Philip Larkin, a poet I first read on his site.
Few think of Philip Larkin as a nature poet, largely because he writes about human beings and because he was no nature mystic. You’ll find no soft-headed, Emersonian, Mary Oliver-style swooning in Larkin, but you will find frequent observations of the natural world. Fifty-six years ago, in January 1962, he worked on an untitled sonnet never published during his lifetime and posthumously titled “January” by editors:
“A slight relax of air where cold was
And water trickles; dark ruinous light,
Scratched like old film, above wet slates withdraws.
At garden-ends, on railway banks, sad white
Shrinkage of snow shows cleaner than the net
Stiffened like ectoplasm in front windows.
“Shielded, what sorts of life are stirring yet:
Legs lagged like drains, slippers soft as fungus,
The gas and grate, the old cold sour grey bed.
Some ajar face, corpse-stubbled, bends round
To see the sky over the aerials—
Sky, absent paleness across which the gulls
Wing to the Corporation rubbish ground.
A slight relax of air. All is not dead.”
Larkin refers to the nameless season called by Eliot “midwinter spring.” In Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love (2014), James Booth describes the poem’s setting as “an urban wasteland [in which] a decrepit figure reminiscent of a Samuel Beckett character turns towards the faintest hint of spring.” One looks for hope in Larkin (it’s there, though unadvertised) as one awaits the return of warmth and blues skies in the winter.

The painting was taken from another blog that features good poetry, First Known When Lost.