STLT#204, Come, O Sabbath Day

Before the hymn, I want to address a comment: On the Facebook comments for yesterday’s post, a colleague noted with  surprise that I actually liked one, as though I hate our hymns and this is a chore.

I’m surprised that this came up, and maybe that colleague is the only one who thinks that, but it is absolutely worth addressing in case that colleague is the only one who felt brave enough to say it.

Do I hate our hymns? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, it is true there are hymns I am not fond of here, and occasionally one I out and out hate and would rip out of the book and sear from our memories if only I had that kind of power (and didn’t like the hymn on the next page). But there are many more I like, and yes, quite a few I adore.

And still, the ones I like and love may contain some problems, or quirks, or lead me to wonder about how others might perceive it. And yes, liking or loving or hating a song largely depends on the time of year, the news, external circumstances, or even just a mood. I am sure if I go back now to the morning songs I sang the week after the election, I might have different things to say. And if I knew how much people love Bring Many Names, I might not have been so harsh…no, wait, I really still dislike that one…

My point is this: if you only read this blog when I am critical, then you might think I hate our songs and this practice. But if you actually read the blog on a regular basis, then you know that I have a deep love for this practice,  our songs, and even the particular ones I hate I still have an affection for, because they are part of our expansive living tradition. I wouldn’t keep doing this practice if it didn’t do something for me, and frankly for many of my readers.

On the whole, I love our music. I love this critical evaluation from which incredible richness emerges – both my own and from those readers who comment here and on Facebook (and even a few times on Twitter). I definitely love this practice, as it brings focus – and music – to my days.  And I love the idea that something bigger may emerge from it.

Now, on to the hymns….

Where has this hymn been all my life?

Wow. It’s gorgeous. It is a loving, comforting song in a gentle, minor key. It’s pretty easy to pick up, singing wise, And I can imagine it being used in any number of situations, especially when some contemplation or gentleness or simply rest after a lot of busy-ness is called for (which is every Sabbath, really).

The lyrics alone, from Rabbi Gustav Gottheil, a leader in the Reform Judaism movement in the late 19th century, are amazing – a wonderful prayer to offer in the morning or evening (as noted by the optional ‘rising’).  But for me, the tune, by Abraham Binder, is what gives the lyrics a fullness and completeness.

Come, O Sabbath day and bring peace and healing on thy wing:
and to every weary one let a word of blessing come:
thou shalt rest. Thou shalt rest.

Welcome Sabbath! Let depart ev’ry care of troubled heart.
Now the daily task is done, let a word of comfort come:
Thou thalt rest. Thou shalt rest.

Work and sorrow cast away! Sabbath is for prayer and play.
With the setting* of the sun, let a cheering message come:
thou shalt rest. Thou shalt rest.

*or “rising”

If you use this already, huzzah! If you haven’t, please try it – I will be, for sure.

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Read my thoughts about congregational life at Hold My Chalice


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