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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, September 10, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Exodus 15:1b–11, 20–21

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power—your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrew your adversaries; you sent out your fury, it consumed them like stubble. At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up, the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, doing wonders? Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” (NRSV)

Moses sang. Miriam sang. There are more than 180 songs in the Bible and three songbooks. Perhaps not all the songs were sung, but they were called songs nonetheless. Why so many songs? Why sing?

I should be able to speak to this question. I have taught choir for thirty-four years and have the privilege of occupying the best seat in our Sanctuary when the Cherub, Children, and Youth Choirs sing. Moses and Miriam sang to praise God and may have been singing this same song, with Moses taking the verse and Miriam the refrain. The verse here is lengthy, giving us detail. Moses identifies who God is and lists God’s many great works. The refrain is much shorter, and other people joined in with Miriam.

This is the way with people and songs. We are immediately hooked by this simple melody and few words in the refrain and tend to join in here first. For example, I love to listen to and can appreciate the poetic integrity of Lin Manuel’s lengthy raps in Hamilton, but I join in on the refrains containing five or six words such as “I’m not throwing away my . . . . shot!” I also find myself blasting the words of great hymns, only to morph into a neutral syllable when words escape me: “I Sing the Mighty Power of God, dah Da-da-dah Dah dah Daaaah!”

So, why sing? Because we can! And it feels good. Singing is not a spectator sport. Everyone should sing, even if only on the refrain—or until your words escape you! The lyrics should be expressed . . . into the air. God may know your thoughts, but blasting out important phrases like “the Lord has triumphed gloriously” is good for the singer. It takes courage, but it does feel good.

God, thank you for the songs. Thank you for my voice. Give me the courage of a cherub to use it as Moses and his sister Miriam did. Amen.

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

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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