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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, May 18, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 148

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon;
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for he commanded and they were created.
He established them forever and ever;
   he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
   you sea monsters and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and frost,
   stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills,
   fruit trees and all cedars!
Wild animals and all cattle,
   creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples,
   princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and women alike,
   old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
   for his name alone is exalted;
   his glory is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
      praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

Praise the Lord! Everyone and everything; praise the Lord! And we are given a reason for this praise—because God commanded and all was created. Each of us—and all that is—was established and is sustained by God. What an incredible gift!

Why, then, don’t I always praise the Lord with gusto? Perhaps because I let life get in the way.

I love getting out of the city and being out in nature. We recently visited our middle son in upstate New York. I love driving in the Adirondacks. Every few minutes, my wife or I would point out the window and say, “Pretty!” Some vistas are simply awe-inspiring. How often do we forget the simple act of praise and acknowledgement that God has done and continues to do great things?

I was also excited to be assigned this particular psalm, because one of the choirs I conduct is preparing a setting of this psalm by early American composer William Billings. The title is “O Praise the Lord of Heaven.” Typical of many pieces by Billings, the anthem is boisterous and disjunctive. Sections don’t always make sense metrically, but somehow they create a wonderful expression of praise. The creations of God—mountains, oceans, angels, the heavens, the powerful, the not-nearly-so powerful—each has a place in God’s creation. Billings adds a wonderful Hallelujah at the end of his psalm setting. I like to think that he is adding his own “Praise the Lord!” at the end of the anthem.

How often do you step back, take a deep breath, and add your own intentional “Praise the Lord!” to the God of our creation? Music like the Billings piece and vistas like the Adirondacks remind me that it is imperative to take time to do so.

God of creation, help me raise my voice with all of creation to the glory of your name. When I forget or get distracted, clear my vision so that I might see the work of your hands in everyone and everything around me. Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Written by Robert Sinclair, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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