Friday, January 30, 2009

"...while Christ is rich, can I be poor..."

"...He that has made my heaven secure,
Will here all good provide;
While Christ is rich, can I be poor?
What can I want beside?
O God, I cast my care on Thee;
I triumph and adore;
Henceforth my great concern shall be
To love and praise Thee more..."

-     John Ryland

Over the last few months, these words from a much-loved hymn, have come to me often while praying for spiritual solutions in the wake of this economic crisis. And not only this hymn. I have found many of the inspirational songs in the Christian Science Hymnal to be trustworthy spiritual companions as I pray. 

This is far from new. Over the years, I have often heard the words to a hymn when listening for God-based answers. But lately this very clear focus on hymns has been startling and pointed.  A line, a verse or an entire hymn -  one after another - has sung it's way into my prayers. 

Case in point, while praying in support of a non-profit organization facing budget-related concerns, the above hymn floated through the air so softly that it was as if my Father-Mother God was singing a lullaby near my ear.

Why so many hymns, I wondered...why hymns almost exclusively?  I picked up my  old, soft, leather-bound copy of the hymnal and started turning the well-worn pages.   And there it was...copyright 1932. It was suddenly so clear to me that there was a direction relationship between the relevance of these messages of hope and encouragement to our times, and the historic context of their roots.  

This most recent publication of the Christian Science Hymnal had been completely revised, and republished, in 1932.  Old favorites had been adapted, words had been revised, lyrics had been set to more modern tunes, completely new hymns had been written - and collaborated on - by spiritual thinkers who were poets, musicians...and healers.  Contributions that were born of their experiences. Their choices of what to include - from the works of earlier songwriters and composers - in this 1932 revision, was also the result of humble prayer. Editors prayed for guidance in choosing texts and music that would inspire, comfort, and heal.   These were the songs (and song selections) of depression-era psalmists.  Men and women who had lived and prayed through a stock market crash, black Tuesday, the great depression, the dust bowl, food lines, and "Brother can you spare a dime..."

The 1932 Christian Science Hymnal came alive for me in new ways. As a practitioner of spiritual law, these hymns were a welcome addition to my law library--a much loved and poured over collection of testimonies that includes the Bible with its accounts of spiritual law exercised and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and its chapter "Fruitage" filled with personal letters testifying to the healing power of prayer--precendent setting cases to stand on in confidently trusting God's care during a crisis of any kind...depression, recession, inflation. Each hymn was proof that someone had faced fear, despair, uncertainty, want, or woe, and had not only surmounted their troubles, but had been inspired to leave a trail of hope for generations yet unborn.

My husband, our friends...Susan, Sue, and Carey (The Solo Committee), my children's dad, and other poets/musicians we are blessed to know, are writing new hymns and inspirational songs through
these trying times.  Their psalms of hope and praise are comforting and inspiring us today and will become a legacy of faith for our children...and our children's children.  A supplement to the 1932 has been published and is making some of these new songs available to us as we pray for fresh spiritual solutions. 

Knowing the historic context of these hymns, songs that had been coming to my heart in prayer over the last few months...with such divine imperative...has been a gift of grace.

As you pray for yourself, your family, your neighbors, your community's employers and employees, those with jobs...and those who are looking for work to support their families...perhaps these hymns...or the hymns from your own church's hymnal, will give you comfort and inspiration...a gift of promise from a generation of spiritual thinkers who have blazed a trail for each of us leaving waymarks of encouragement along the way.

This hymn, #224, has always been very special to me...I hope it brings you peace tonight...

O Lord, I would delight in Thee,
And on Thy care depend;
To Thee in every trouble flee,
My best, my ever Friend
When all material streams are dried,
Thy fullness is the same;
May I with this be satisfied,
And glory in Thy name.

All good, where'er it may be found,
Its source doth find in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While God is God to me.
O that I had a stronger faith,
To look within the veil,
To credit what my Saviour saith,
Whose word can never fail.

He that has made my heaven secure,
Will here all good provide;
While Christ is rich, can I be poor?
What can I want beside?
O God, I cast my care on Thee;
I triumph and adore;
Henceforth my great concern shall be
To love and praise Thee more...

with Love...


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