Hymn by Hymn

STLT#5, It Is Something to Have Wept

It is something to have wept as we have wept,
and something to have done as we have done;
it is something to have watched when all have slept,
and seen the stars which never see the sun.

It is something to have smelt the mystic rose,
although it break and leave the thorny rods;
it is something to have hungered once as those
must hunger who have ate the bread of gods:

To have known the things that from the weak are furled,
the fearful ancient passions, strange and high;
it is something to be wiser than the world,
and something to be older than the sky.

Lo, and blessed are our ears for they have heard:
yea, blessed are our eyes for they have seen:
let the thunder break on human, beast, and bird,
and lightning. It is something to have been.

I feel like this is one of those hymns I want to come back to after I have actually heard it – plunking out the notes on my little keyboard app, I know, isn’t doing it justice – and I don’t know what to think of it. Perhaps it is the time of year, but the melody sounds a bit to me like a Jewish folk song; and if that is true, I want to delve more deeply into the pairing of these words with that melody.

What I am learning pretty quickly about this spiritual practice is that it’s frustrating when the tune doesn’t come easily. I’m a good sight reader, but the practice well, takes practice. I suppose there are days I will have glorious insights and some days when I’m like the King in the film Amadeus, haltingly plunking out notes.

I am also learning  – in just five pages – how little of the hymnal I actually know. It’s true that we get used to singing certain hymns, but I think even in my first years of ministry, I have been remiss in learning new pieces to add life and meaning to our services. While they might not all come easily, I hope that in part, this long practice yields some new favorites. It reminds me of a time when I was tiny – I don’t remember this, but my family does: Mom got tired of cooking the same nine or ten meals all the time, so she decided to spend a year fixing a new dish each evening. The rule was that you had to taste it at least, and there was always PB&J or hot dogs or spaghetti if the meal was a failure. But out of that experiment, mom dutifully going through her cookbooks to find appealing dinners, we now have dozens of family favorite recipes, considered staples in our home – beef roulades, rice pilaf, curried fruit, Irish stew, and more – and we all have copies of those cookbooks in our own homes – Gourmet, James Beard, Julia Child, etc.

So maybe this will become a favorite. I will be revisiting.


Words by GK Chesterton
Music by Robert L. Sanders

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