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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

O enter then his gates with praise;
approach with joy his courts unto;
praise, laud, and bless his name always,
for it is seemly so to do.

For why? The Lord our God is good;
his mercy is forever sure;
his truth at all times firmly stood,
and shall from age to age endure.

William Kethe’s “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”
(tune: Old Hundredth)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

When I was young, I remember reading the words “The Order of Worship” in the bulletin. Later, after seeing the “Book of Order” on our bookshelf, I began resenting the Presbyterian ways, thinking, “Man, they sure do like to boss you around!” It wasn’t until I pondered the words of William Kethe in this hymn that I began to finally consider the concept of order. Many psalms instruct us to begin our worship with praise. Every worship service at Fourth Presbyterian Church begins with praise. This is no accident. We do this because the Bible tells us to.

Stanza three of this hymn tells us to praise God first. Left to my own devices, I would praise God, but not first. My psalm of worry would go something like this. “Great is the panic and fear! Greatly to be avoided! Enter, ye with cries of doubt! If situations resolve to your satisfaction, praise God! Praise him timidly if you remember to praise him at all!” This cannot and does not work.

If stanza three tells us to praise God first, verse four tells us why. The Lord our God is good. His mercy is forever sure. We need to proclaim this, if only to remind ourselves. If we really get that and live in that, we will not dwell in the panic and fear. Sometimes at night, when all I can do is spin in worry, I make a deal with myself. I bring the concern to God in prayer, but only after listing ten blessings of the day. Almost every time, in the midst of listing the things for which I am grateful, I become secure and anchored in the love and power of God.

Dear God, when I praise you, I remember that your truth stands firm, and all things fall into perspective. In gratitude I pray. Amen.

Written by Katy Sinclair,
Associate Director of Music for Children and Youth

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