#SongInMyHeart · Bible Study · Church of England · Churches Together in Britain · Felixstowe · Franciscan · Lent · Prayer

With a Song in my Heart – Day 4

With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs

Day 4 – Saturday after Ash Wednesday

To Listen:           My Song is Love Unknown

My song is love unknown, my Saviour’s love to me,
love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake, my Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from his blest throne, salvation to bestow;
but men made strange, and none the longed-for Christ would know.
But O, my friend, my friend indeed, who at my need his life did spend!

Sometimes they strew his way, and his sweet praises sing:
resounding all the day hosannas to their King:
then ‘Crucify!’ is all their breath, and for his death they thirst and cry.

[4. Why, what hath my Lord done? What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run, he gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these themselves displease, and ‘gainst him rise.

They rise, and needs will have my dear Lord made away;
a murderer they save, the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet cheerful he to suff’ring goes, that he his foes from thence might free.]

 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.

Samuel Grossman (c. 1624-1684)

From the Scriptures:

Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, ‘Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?’ 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, ‘Then what do you wish me to d] with the man you call the King of the Jews?’ 13 They shouted back, ‘Crucify him!’ 14 Pilate asked them, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Crucify him!’ 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

(Mark 15v6-15)

To Reflect: 

Well that was quick.  One day we are thinking about commitments at the beginning of the journey of Lent and then, just 4 Days in, we find ourselves already at Golgotha!  What is going on?

Sorry there are no shortcuts this Lent.  It is such a precious a time of coming closer to our Redeemer that I often wish it would last just a little longer.  Today’s hymn, for me, is not so much about God’s great sacrificial love, (though, if I’m honest all hymns and sacred songs are about that) but about my response to this particular one.

RHS Chapel

I was fourteen years old and in my third Easter as one of 700 boys (all from Naval families) boarding at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook just South of Ipswich.  Church attendance was compulsory, and for my era, so was Confirmation.  I remember at the beginning of my Second Year there and the Headmaster standing up and saying, ‘Form 2 will be confirmed’.  We went along with it because, as our forebears told us, Confirmation Class only lasted 15 minutes and it got you out of an hour’s worth of Prep on a Tuesday evening for six weeks.  What’s not to like?  This also had another reward as it meant us Juniors had 45 minutes free time on the Snooker Table in our Boarding Houses whilst the Seniors were still in Prep!  I’m still uncertain as to whether we were confirmed so that we could ‘get religion’ or so that we could improve our skills with a snooker cue…

Worship in the Chapel of St Mary & St Nicholas, with 700 full throated dragooned boys, required two things; a short sermon and some big loud hymns – preferably with Trumpets and Drums – Remember The Old 100th from the Introductory post in this series?

We sang (well shouted really) everything loudly and raucously and sometimes it seemed that we were not so much participating in Divine Worship but instead were singing Rugby Songs on the Terraces of Twickenham.  (And yea, as with most Public Schools, we had alternate rude words for every carol and hymn in the book).

This was fun, It helped you feel you were an individual with purpose – part of the strange alchemy of being part of a crowd – but at the end of one Easter term as we were belting out John Ireland’s beautiful tune to Love Unknown I found that I was suddenly alone in a sea of 700.  This was the line we loved shouting, and this was the crucify-him-1024x585line that ripped my heart apart;

then ‘Crucify!’ is all their breath, and for his death they thirst and cry.

That Easter term was like no other.  I stopped singing, sat down, and wept my poor little teenage eyes out.  The next two verses of the hymn (sadly not frequently sung anymore) just made things worse as I realised for the first time the injustice of the Cross, the love of Christ – who was in a new way that day ‘My Lord’ – and a call to a deeper commitment to being Christian beyond simply trying to, Cub Scout-like, doing my best, not getting caught out doing wrong, and singing hymns loudly.

From that moment on, although I had a solid Christian background, I owned these words for myself and knew that I had a friend with whom I wanted to hang out with for eternity;

This is my friend in whose sweet praise I all my days could gladly spend.

changeWas it a moment of conversion?  Was it, like Saul become Paul, my Damascus Road?  Perhaps.  I have come to learn that choosing to spend all your days living for and praising the One Who Loves us a Best is not the work of a moment but, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, a commitment to a lifetime of ‘conversions’.  A daily looking for opportunities to give your life away.  Looking for moments when, as our Franciscan community says, we are ready to accept the lowest place when asked, and to volunteer to take it. Being ever-ready to change the direction of our life so that we remain firmly in the presence of our beloved Redeemer.

Is this easy?  I have not always found it to be so.  Yet in all honesty the times when I have found living a life of conversion difficult is not because of the circumstances that have surrounded me but because of my own stubborn wilfulness!

The old hymn that used to begin the Daily Service on the BBC Radio 4 (then the Home Service) New Every Morning perhaps says it all.  Each day is an opportunity to hear afresh the Good News of God’s Love and choose to ‘convert’ our day into our Beloved’s service.

  

To Pray:

Remember us, O God,
and shape our history,
form our inward eyes
to see the shadow of the life-giving cross
in the turbulence of our time;
for his sake who died for all,
Christ our Lord.

(Psalm 136)

To Do:

  • Next time you have a Quiet Time try not to follow your usual routine and instead ‘gladly spend time in the praise of our Dear Friend’.
  • What part of your life has yet to be ‘converted’? Is this a gift you can make to our Beloved during this Lent?

Reprise:              Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

The second hymn for today is another Royal Hospital School ‘Banger’ which was popular because it was considered okay to scream out ‘Earthquake, Wind and Fire!’ so long as we made more or less a fist of going sotto voce for ‘O still small voice of calm!’ A line from a hymn which surely has the world’s most redundant exclamation mark?

I have chosen the version sung on the beaches of Dunkirk at the end of the movie ‘Atonement’ as a way of marking the current conflict in Ukraine and ask your prayers for all involved soldiers and civilians, women and children, and (more below) also animals. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55CaD_j5FQs

 

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper rev’rence praise,
in deeper rev’rence praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee,
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!
Interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace,
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!
O still small voice of calm!

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Don’t Leave Yet…

Christine Johnston is a Soprano who lives in Felixstowe and whose enriches so many of our community events.  She has recently recorded the song ‘A Million Tears’ to help raise funds for the War Horse Memorial.  If you enjoy the song and support her cause why not download the song?  All proceeds go to support the work of the Memorial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiVegkhF0vg

 

Please Note:  These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin
If you would like them as a daily email please send a request to vicar@felixparish.com

  

Acknowledgements:

Prayers are adapted from the Psalm Prayers in the Common Worship Psalter. material from which is included here, is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005
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.
These Reflections, ‘With a Song in my Heart’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2022

 

3 thoughts on “With a Song in my Heart – Day 4

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