This is one of those cases where, given the times in which we live and the still unbelievable event about to happen on Friday, all I can do is let the lyrics of this beautiful song of joy and resistance speak for themselves. Sorry, folks, no deep analysis today, because this song has shaken me to my core with its undeniable truths and hope-filled demands. Please sing and cry with me today:
My life flows on in endless song above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the real though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife I hear the music ringing.
It sounds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing!
What though the tempest ‘round me roars, I know the truth, it liveth.
What though the darkness ‘round me close, songs in the night it giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love prevails in heav’n and earth, how can I keep from singing!
When tyrants tremble as they hear the bells of freedom ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near, how can I keep from singing!
To prison cell and dungeon vile our thoughts to them are winging;
when friends by shame are undefiled, how can I keep from singing!
I should note, as Jacqui James points out in Between the Lines, the third verse was written during the McCarthy era to protest that round of paranoia and fear; it seems especially appropriate right now.
My sermon this week is called “What’s Next?” wherein I’ll be talking about what this elderly congregation can expect and can do, since for nearly all of them, their days of protest marches and door-knocking are long over. I want them to do is keep singing the songs of resistance and freedom, to keep telling their stories, and do the little things they can (letter writing, calls to representatives, etc.) to keep hope alive. And so we’ll end on this hymn.
And hopefully I can keep it together long enough to do the benediction.