We will be worshipping this Sunday after the worst mass shooting in American history. By the grace of God the scriptures in the world wide lectionary for this week remind us that Christ gives us the way out of violence and hatred and fear. Christ heals us of the demonic madness that divides us (Luke 8:26-39) and he brings us together as one (Galatians 3:26-28). He leads us to the God of Psalm 46: “God makes wars cease to the end of the earth; God breaks the bow, and shatters the spear and burns the shields with fire. ‘Be still and know that I am God!'” Christ leads us to the sheer silence, the still, small voice, the calm beyond the hurricane, earthquake and fire of our world. (I Kings 19:1-15) Christ opens us to the Holy Spirit, the greatest force in the universe, the force of Christlike love that has overcome empires and time and again has revealed hope where there seemed to be no hope.
We will celebrate that force of love and hope this Sunday. We will sing two verses of Still, Still With Thee, with mystical words by Harriet Beecher Stowe set to a beautiful tune by Felix Mendelssohn. We will go from that stillness to the rousing, uplifting spiritual Down by the Riverside, and from there to the visionary prayer, O Day of God, Draw Nigh. We will also sing Let There Be Light, Lord God of Hosts. The music is unfamiliar to most of us, but it was written by the great Lowell Mason who wrote many popular hymn tunes. The last two verses say:
Give us the peace of vision clear
To see our brothers’ good our own,
To joy and suffer not alone:
The love that casteth out all fear!
Let woe and waste of warfare cease,
That useful labor yet may build
Its homes with love and laughter filled!
God, give thy wayward children peace!
Organist John Atwood will play: “Voluntary in F Major” byJohn Standley; “Dialogue” by Francois Couperin; “The Emperor’s Concerto” by Padre Antonio Soler; and two special pieces, “O Savior, Hear Me” by Christoph Willibald von Gluck and “Arietta” by Edvard Grieg.
Here are recordings of the two special pieces. (Sorry about any youtube ads–start with the volume down on this first one…)