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Monday, September 8, 2014

I love the Lord, who heard my cry
and pitied every groan.
Long as I live and troubles rise,
I’ll hasten to God’s throne.

I love the Lord, who heard my cry
and chased my grief away.
O let my heart no more despair,
while I have breath to pray.

Isaac Watts’s “I Love the Lord, Who Heard My Cry”
(tune: I Love the Lord)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

Reflection
I must admit, I prefer the original language of Psalm 116, the psalm on which Isaac Watts based this hymn. It has an earnestness and a weight that is lost to me in the sing-song nature of this hymn. (Though I love the story of how Isaac Watts was so inclined to rhyme in his speech that he risked being disciplined for it.)

And I cannot sit easily with the notion of God “chasing my grief” away.
I have learned from my times of grief, even when it sat heavily on me and I could not in that moment see the righteousness of it. I yearn for a God who will sit with me in my grief, not for one who will take it away.

But yes, let my heart no more despair, that utter loss of hope and faith. Let me always have breath to pray; let me remember to use my breath to pray. And the surest way I know to do this is given in this quote (attributed to St. Augustine): “He who sings, prays twice.”

When I am in despair, when I cannot think to pray, sometimes I can remember to sing. And in that singing I am opened again—to breath, to spirit, to feeling God’s presence, with me, always. What a great gift it is, to sing and have it be prayer. All song can, when needed, be prayer.

Prayer
I love the Lord, who hears my song, and restores me. May I never forget you offer this grace. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life


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