No one leaves the service humming the homily; they go out humming the hymns. Those were the wisewords from one of our leaders at a recent Episcopal 102 class on the importance of music to our liturgy. I remembered that comment as I left this past Sunday’s service humming the Torah Song (Hymn 546 –“God has spoken to his people”). I found myself still singing it on Monday, first while making breakfast and then around the office. It’s not really a Monday morning song, especially on this dreary day. Frankly, the Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays” comes to mind as a better song to sing. So why did it stick in my head? Well, as they used to say on American Bandstand: it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. I suppose the bouncy nature
of the tune stuck in my head. And of all the songs we sing over the course of a church year, this one makes me most want to dance. Indeed, as Fr. Merrow noted in his homily, the Jewish tradition is to exuberantly dance to this song as part of the celebration.
But maybe the words carry a special weight at the moment too. It’s been a tough couple of weeks in our house with the passing of John’s mom, and a recent memorial service for an old work colleague. At the service I ran into friends I hadn’t seen in years, and I learned that many were dealing with their own personal struggles: battling cancer, mourning the loss of a spouse, or struggling through a divorce. And as hard as it was to learn of their struggles, it was even harder for me to acknowledge that maybe I’d lost touch with people when they most needed my support or even just a kind word. Maybe I hadn’t opened my ears or my eyes beyond my own little world.
Yes, I think it’s safe to say the words of the Torah song have resonated this week as well.
Open your ears oh faithful people,
open your ears and hear God’s word.
Open your ears oh royal priesthood,
God has come to you.
God has spoken to his people, Hallelujah!
And his words are words of wisdom, Hallelujah!
The words remind us that we don’t have to struggle through difficult times alone. “God has come to you.” He has come to you freely – you don’t have to earn God’s love or barter for it in some way. We just have to open our ears to his words and our hearts to his love. It seems easy, and the hymn presents the message in such a buoyant way, it’s a wonder we ever forget the message. But we do.
I am glad I’m still singing the song today, and I hope that when the tune is eventually replaced with another, I won’t lose the message. And, even if I didn’t hum the homily walking out the door this past Sunday, I hung onto a nugget from it as well: the nature of God is generous. I’m going to keep those treasures in my pocket, and ask God to open my ears and my heart to more.
‐ How do the hymns chosen for our liturgy help you worship?
‐ Does any particular hymn resonate with you?
‐ What does it mean to open your ears and hear God’s words?