August 25, 2019
There was a lot of singing during the services when I was growing up in the little Congregational Church in Brownhill, Blackburn. Looking back, I’m not sure how we were able to shoe-horn everything into an hour, given that we would normally sing five hymns, most of which had at least five verses. Looking back, I can see that preaching suffered as a result. The sermon became shorter to accommodate everything else. The problem with that, as someone once said, is that “Sermonettes produce Christianettes!” John Wesley remarked that Christianity is a singing faith, but he would have agreed that we should have sung less and spent more time in the Word.
However, we didn’t just sing hymns. Every Sunday, after the pastoral prayer, we sang the Lord’s Prayer together. We didn’t need the music or the words; everyone knew them. The organ began quietly as young and old bowed together to pray. But then, as the prayer progressed, the volume increased, reaching a crescendo with the words “For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory,” only to sink back to a whispered plea, “forever and ever. Amen. Amen.” I found it deeply moving, and still do. I have sung those words, to that haunting melody, at various times throughout my life; sometimes audibly, as at my mother’s bedside, at other times silently, as the Spirit has moved me. So, if ever you hear me get the words “wrong” during a worship service, you’ll just have to forgive me. I’m just regressing a little! Either that, or the Holy Spirit is pressing my reset button, reminding me of what is important.
May the same Spirit touch our hearts as we ask our Lord to teach us to pray.