Singing a Love Song
Words from the Vicarage – a Cyber Sermon for Palm Sunday – 28 March 2021
Text: The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!’ . (John 12v12-13)
God give you peace my Sisters and Brothers.
On April Fool’s Day, something which will make some people smile wryly and roll their eyebrows, it will be exactly a year since Rob Dunger asked if I could think up a 60 second ‘Pause for Thought’ to be broadcast on his programme on Felixstowe Radio each weekday – 60 seconds because that is the maximum length you can make a recording on Facebook Messenger. They are mostly cheerleading for the community and seem to have been helpful as, apart from Rob’s holidays and his honeymoon, we have managed to keep it up and my hard work has even been rewarded with my very own jingle! If you haven’t listened to them tune in to 107.5fm weekdays at 12.30pm. If you haven’t listened to them tune in to 107.5fm weekdays at 12.30pm.
If I’m really lucky, and the songs are on the Radio Station’s database, I even get to choose a song to go with my words. Recently Rob asked me for three pop songs in a row that were important to me to be played as a sort of musical autobiography.
This set me thinking, as it is one of the things I have missed most during this year of Covid, about hymns that have transformed my life. And whenever I start thinking about hymns the first hymn that always comes to my heart is Samuel Crossman’s ‘My Song is Love Unknown’.
Why? Like many of us I have been blessed with several moments of grace when I have been able to turn away from looking at myself all the time and look towards the bright shining love streaming from the Cross of Christ.
Repentance, Confession, Renewal, Conversion, Altar Call, name it what you will. They are moments of grace when, overwhelmed by the love of God we can do little other than bow our knees, raise our hands heavenward and say, ‘Here I am Lord, send me.’ C.S. Lewis coined it perfectly when he described these moments as being ‘Surprised by Joy’.
For me the most urgent of these moments was as a 14 year old boy singing this hymn in the chapel at the Royal Hospital School. It was this verse that grabbed me and has not yet let me go;
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
is all their breath,
And for His death
they thirst and cry.
In the middle of 699 other boys I stood there and cried my eyes out – so much so that one of my friends took me to see matron – at the realisation of how easily I, who had been a Christian since I was nine years old, could turn from shouting joyful ‘Hosannas’ to screaming bloodthirstily ‘Crucify’!
I don’t think I was a ‘big’ sinner. The odd lie, an occasional shirking of household chores, but I did know that far too much of my life was spent looking at me and nowhere near enough of it spent looking at and caring for others.
Something had to change. I needed help. I knew I couldn’t do this by myself. From that day on I have known three things;
- I can do very little in my own strength.
- Jesus wants to stand close to everyone everyday, I had to stop pushing him away.
- I hate alone. Alone sucks!
Having learnt this means that now, still with tears but happy ones, this verse of the hymn brings me joy and calls me home;
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend,
in Whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.
As we stand on the brink of a second Holy Week during which nothing is in its usual place how will we meet it?
We cannot meet together to share a Passover Meal.
We will not be able to wash each other’s feet.
We cannot gather with Christians from other parts of our town at the Triangle in Hamilton Road and ‘Lift High the Cross’.
There will be no worries about setting robes on fire and faltering clerical voices trying to sing the Exultet at the Easter Vigil.
We will not greet the dawn of Easter on the Prom.
We will not be able to shout and sing Alleluia.
But this we can do.
We can turn our hearts away from ourselves towards the love streaming from the Cross.
We can decide to look upwards to the hope won for us on that cross rather than downwards at all that has not worked well and all that we regret.
We can reach out to each other, and even though not touching, still spread a message of light, life and love to everyone we know and love, to those who we know but do not love us, and even to those of whom we are afraid.
We can still, though quietly in our hearts – which is where all the best songs are sung – sing a song of love unknown which is given to us that we might make it known to the whole world.
The Cartoon ‘Thought for the Day’ is copyright © Dave Walker 2021. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This blog, ‘Singing a Love Song’ is copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2021 and may be reproduced without charge on condition that the source is acknowledged
 For interest’s sake they were:
‘Hill climbing for Beginners’ by Water into Wine Band.
‘Another Country’ by Mango Groove’
and ‘No Frontiers’ by The Corrs
 …and helped me decide that next year’s Lent Reflections will be about hymns that have done just that.
 From the movie ‘Entrapment’