Singing Hymns and Spiritual Songs
By Judy Luffman of Redmond, OR, USA
For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. —Ephesians 2:14–16 NRSV
When the new collection of hymns and songs, Community of Christ Sings, was introduced in 2013, I was excited to sing familiar texts to new tunes and new texts to familiar tunes. And, I was challenged to learn other hymns and songs that were totally unfamiliar. Learning new hymns and songs was fun(!) until, while sitting in a service in the Temple Sanctuary, “Till All the Jails Are Empty” CCS 303 was announced.
I joined in readily while singing the first two stanzas, but was brought to sudden tears when singing the beginning of stanza three:
By sitting at a bedside
to hold pale trembling hands,
by speaking for the powerless
against unjust demands…
You see, my mother had suffered a disabling stroke, and I had had the difficult experience of sitting by her bedside holding her pale, trembling, non-paralyzed hand.
People like my mother may need our tender concern to help them receive the care they require. Others may need to receive a hand-up out of poverty. Still others, such as those in prison, may need support to overcome their bad choices.
As we sing these powerful texts of lament or justice or memorial, we can weep with those who suffer. We can travel through the Christian liturgical year singing songs of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. We can affirm our willingness to be commissioned as Jesus’ disciples as we sing songs of calling, vocation and witness…and so much more.
Community of Christ Sings is helping us develop as disciples through the theology we internalize as we sing. Let us continue to lift our voices in singing hymns and spiritual songs because doing so is one way that will help transform us into disciples who embody Christ’s mission as our mission.
May I see your light in all life.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Light of God
Close your eyes, and become centered with your breath. As you breathe gently in and out, reflect on the statement, “The light of God is in all things.” The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light, and it lives in you.