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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yes, on through life’s long path,
still chanting as ye go,
from youth to age, by night and day,
in gladness and in woe:

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing!

At last the march shall end;
the wearied ones shall rest;
the pilgrims find their home at last,
Jerusalem the blest.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing!

Then on, ye pure in heart!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing!
Your festal banner wave on high,
the cross of Christ your King.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing!

Edward Hayes Plumptre’s “Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!” (tune: Marion)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal


The people of God respond with words and deeds of praise and thanksgiving in acts of prayer, proclamation, remembrance, and offering. In the name of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christian community worships and serves God, in shared experiences of life, in personal discipleship, in mutual ministry, and in common ministry in the world.

PC(USA) Book of Order, Directory for Worship 1.1005b

Hymnals have been powerful resources of faith for Christian communities in the past—and this is no less true of our new hymnal, Glory to God. Yet, as with any other tool, it might take us some time to get used to our new hymnal, to understand exactly how it works, and to unlock all that it has to offer us.

This hymnal is set up in such a way that helps us keep an eye toward the big picture of worship. As described in the quote from our constitution above, Presbyterians understand worship as an act that stands as a linchpin between our grateful acceptance of the wonderful things God has done for us and our inspired and faithful response to God’s action in the living of our lives out in the world. If you look at the table of contents for Glory to God, you’ll see that the hymns are organized into the three sections, “God’s Mighty Acts,” “The Church at Worship,” and “Our Response to God.”

“Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!” is a wonderful hymn that encapsulates this sense of worship. The middle stanzas help us to sing out in praise of our creator with the rest of creation, to see our worship as a part of our life’s journey in service to God, and to look forward to the rest that is to be enjoyed by the saints who have received God’s grace. This portrait of our faith journey is framed by stanzas that call us all to rejoice in God and in Jesus Christ our leader. And all of this is enlivened by a refrain in which the different parts of the congregation call forth to each other to “Rejoice!”

If we can hear this hymn’s call to rejoice!, if we can open ourselves to all the expressions of thanksgiving, dedication, praise, and supplication that are to be found in our new hymnal, I believe we will be renewed in our worship and be made even more aware of how all of our life is to be made a response to God’s gracious action in the world.

Gracious God, whose mighty acts call us forth from our individual spheres to gather together as a grateful people in worship—convict us with the word that is proclaimed in our midst, shape our hearts by the prayers that pass our lips, and inspire our imaginations by the songs that we sing, so that we might truly rejoice in our relationship with you. May the thanksgiving of our hymns be reflected in the service we live out as we look forward to the end of our march and our well earned rest with you. Amen.

Written by Hardy H. Kim, Associate Pastor for Evangelism

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