Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lectionary Devotions: Ordinary 20 - Of Psalms and Songs

For Sunday Aug 16 - Today’s Lectionary Verse:

Ephesians 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.

There are some remote congregations in the Scottish highlands and islands who have been singing the same worship songs for nearly five hundred years. They don't get caught up in the hype of modern Christian music; instead, they faithfully praise God singing the psalms that their ancestors composed in
Scotland when Presbyterianism started to take root.

They sing the psalms unaccompanied and usually in the Gaelic tongue. For someone who comes from the outside to one of these services, the singing is eerie as ancient Scottish melodies and rhythms blend with Shakespearean written psalms. It sounds like a clash of cultures but eventually those psalms were re-sung and the tunes were re-introduced to the mountain people in this region. Sometimes, when I hear us singing Appalachian hymns in church, I can ‘hear’ the Scottish parts in the song.

I would have loved to hear the hymns and psalms that the first Christians sang. I am sure that they reflected parts of the Jewish, Greek and Roman cultures that they came from. It must have been wonderful to be part of a new faith group, with new ideas, and a new excitement about life. Those things would have made Christians sing out with hearts and voices.

When we gather together on Sunday, we have a glorious opportunity to share our faith, our cultures, and our music. God brings us together to praise His Son Jesus Christ with our psalms and hymns. It’s wonderful part of what we do as Christians. It’s a wonderful experience to behold. One day, when we gather again at the feet of Jesus, we will sing songs from all over the world, from different times, places, and cultures that we will instantly know in our hearts and beautifully sing forever.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You love singing which is why our churches are full of people who love to sing. We praise You with ancient words and modern tunes, with organ music, pianos, and harps, with stringed instruments, drums, and horns. Thank You for the gift of song that You have inspired in the hearts of our people. In Your Holy Name, we sing and pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes the regular devotional blog Heaven’s Highway.

Today’s image is taken from John’s ongoing Psalms Project, in which he is creating a drawing for each of the 150 psalms in the Bible.


Viola Larson said...

I am sorry I didn't read this until now. beautiful. I love the hearing about the remote congregations who sing as their past generations did and I love your picture.

Stushie said...

Thanks Viola. I appreciate the encouragement.