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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 17, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

For the joy of ear and eye,
for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony
linking sense to sound and light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

“For the Beauty of the Earth” (vv. 3–4) by Folliott Sanford Pierpont
Hymn 14, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

As I was contemplating this hymn text, I happened to hear the poem “The Bell and the Blackbird” by David Whyte. While I can’t share the entire poem with you here, I encourage you to read it. In my opinion, Whyte is urging us to be awake to the beauty around us by forgetting about ourselves. Here is part of the poem:

Either way
takes courage,
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,
wants you to walk
to the place
where you find
you already know
how to give
every last thing

I love that. He points out that it takes courage to forget about ourselves and that we already know how to do it. I wonder if that is the state of mind Folliot Sanford Pierpont was in when he wrote the words used in this hymn. After all, he was basking in the beauty of the English countryside and the winding Avon River. He is grateful to God for the joy of all he can hear, see, and imagine. He feels the joy he gets from his relationships.

How do we find joy in all we hear and see? How do we get joy from our human connection and lift our grateful praise to God? Perhaps we can start by being awake to what is around us and having the courage to try “to be that self that is no self at all.”

God of mercy and grace, we gratefully praise you. Give us the courage to be awake with the power of the resurrection and to take the focus off of ourselves, so that we can find joy in all the things we can hear, see, taste, and feel. Amen.

Written by Anthony Hipp, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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