With a Song in my Heart – 40 Days of Sacred Songs
Day 27 – Friday after 4th Sunday of Lent
To Listen: God is so Good
God is so good, (Alleluia) God is so good, (Alleluia)
God is so good, (Alleluia) He’s so good to me.
He took my sin, (Alleluia) He took my sin, (Alleluia)
He took my sin, (Alleluia) He’s so good to me.
Now I am free, (Alleluia) Now I am free, (Alleluia)
Now I am free, (Alleluia) He’s so good to me.
God is so good, He took my sin,
Now I am free, He’s so good to me.
From the Scriptures:
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Freedom, such a wonderful concept but so often twisted and perverted. How many of us reading this words will remember Shakespeare and quote from Julius Caesar and proclaim ‘…and let slip the Dogs of War.?’ Which is all well and good except that the text cries Havoc and not Freedom. Yet, somewhere in our common consciousness, we all make a nod to the Bard, and think of revolution when we desire Freedom. Donald Woods, the journalist who was a close friend of the South African Martyr Steve Bantu Biko, called his book about his friend, and the film that followed it ‘Cry Freedom.’
Yet, the Gospel of our Beloved, the One who offered His Body to be broken on the cross, turns our idea of freedom through on its head and turns our cries of Amandla (my most recent being at General Synod this February – so many people looked at me as if to say ‘are you really English’) turn to wormwood.
Our Beloved teaches us that true freedom, true greatness only begins to grow when we give ourselves away and sing in our lives the most ancient of Christian hymns from the Letter to the Philippians…
He always had the nature of God,
but he did not think that by force he should try to remain equal with God.
7 Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had,
and took the nature of a servant.
He became like a human being
and appeared in human likeness.
8 He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death –
his death on the cross.
9 For this reason God raised him to the highest place above
and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.
10 And so, in honour of the name of Jesus
all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below
will fall on their knees,
11 and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2v6-11 – Good News Bible)
Freedom is not always about grabbing power and authority. Sometimes it is about letting go and allowing ourselves to be nailed down, emptying ourselves so that others, seeing how much we love our Beloved, are given the space to be welcomed into the loving arms of the One Who Loves us (and them) Best.
This song was gifted to me by my Franciscan Brother, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. On so many occasions when the Church and South Africa struggled against the unadulterated evil that was Apartheid he encouraged us by reminding us that freedom was not to be found only in Democratic Rule, or the end of an oppressive system but in Christ. One of the joys that my friend Desmond was that, at the end of a long meetings of Provincial Synod, when much had been said and many pains and hurst shared, he would stand to prorogue Synod and, ignoring for the moment the formal wording pushed his way by the Chancellor, would intone the first line of today’s hymn….
God is so good
He took my sin
Now I am free
He’s so good to me
..and as he sang Synod joined in his solo voice to make a heavenly harmony and we were healed and we were free. Laus Deo!
O God, maker of heaven and earth,
you save us in the water of baptism
and by the suffering of your Son you set us free;
help us to put our trust in his victory
and to know the salvation won for us
by Jesus Christ our Lord.
1) Sing a hymn or a song that is someone else’s favourite.
2) In a time of quiet prayer ask God to show you those things that you are holding on to too tightly and pray for the grace to ‘empty yourself’ of anything which may be stopping you from becoming more in love with our Beloved.
Reprise: I Cannot Tell Why He Whom Angels Worship
Following the theme of songs beloved of friends of mine. This one was chosen by Greta Leighton, a dear colleague at St Martin’s School. Together we travelled the journey of faith, solved all the world’s problems(ish), and probably drank far too many cups of coffee.
Hierdie een is vir jou liefling.
I cannot tell why he, whom angels worship,
should set his love upon the sons of men,
or why, as Shepherd, he should seek the wanderers,
to bring them back, they know not how or when.
But this I know, that he was born of Mary
when Bethl’em’s manger was his only home,
and that he lived at Nazareth and laboured,
and so the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is come.
I cannot tell how silently he suffered,
as with his peace he graced this place of tears,
or how his heart upon the cross was broken,
the crown of pain to three and thirty years.
But this I know, he heals the broken-hearted
and stays our sin and calms our lurking fear
and lifts the burden from the heavy laden;
for still the Saviour, Saviour of the world is here.
I cannot tell how he will win the nations,
how he will claim his earthly heritage,
how satisfy the needs and aspirations
of east and west, of sinner and of sage.
But this I know, all flesh shall see his glory,
and he shall reap the harvest he has sown,
and some glad day his sun will shine in splendour
when he the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is known.
I cannot tell how all the lands shall worship,
when at his bidding every storm is stilled,
or who can say how great the jubilation
when every heart with love and joy is filled.
But this I know, the skies will thrill with rapture,
and myriad human voices sing,
and earth to heav’n, and heav’n to earth, will answer,
‘at last the Saviour, Saviour of the world, is King!’
(William Young Fullerton)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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