When I was in college at the University of Richmond, I sang for one year with the University Choir under the direction of James Erb. It was my senior year and Dr. Erb was retiring from the University at the close of the school year. Part of the year was spent preparing and recording a CD, and despite my status as a singer-come-lately, I got to be part of that process.

One of the songs we recorded was “Now is the Cool of the Day,” a song written by Kentucky singer and songwriter Jean Ritchie in the early 1970s.  The song title is a reference to Genesis 3:8.

“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

Every time vespers comes around, I think of this song.  The lyrics challenge us to think of God coming near now to see if we are taking seriously the charge God gave us: to “keep the grasses green,” to “keep the waters clean,” and to “feed my lambs.”

I like to think the cool of the day is the time of day that God usually goes walking in the garden, a special time when God comes close to the everyday in our lives.   I love our Sunday morning worship in the sanctuary; it reminds me of the grandeur and majesty of God.  But I also love the chance to worship in the more intimate setting of the Chapel; it reminds me of the closeness and nearness of God.

This summer we have moved our Vesper Services to Tuesday evenings to take advantage of the food trucks.  While we will have signs informing everyone of the Vesper service at 7pm, I hope our folks might take the opportunity to invite community members who have come to the food trucks to participate in this short, informal worship time in the chapel.

Any Tuesday evening in July and August, come and walk with God again in the cool of the day.

Sung by the 1994 University of Richmond Choir, Soloist Kate Polhill

NOW IS THE COOL OF THE DAY
(by Jean Ritchie)

My Lord, he said unto me,
Do you like my garden so fair?
You may live in this garden if you keep the grasses green,
And I’ll return in the cool of the day.

CHORUS
Now is the cool of the day,
Now is the cool of the day;
O this earth is a garden, the garden of my Lord,
And he walks in his garden
In the cool of the day.

Then my Lord, he said unto me,
Do you like my garden so pure?
You may live in this garden if you keep the waters clean,
And I’ll return in the cool of the day.
CHORUS

Then my Lord, he said unto me,
Do you like my pastures of green?
You may live in this garden if you will feed my lambs,
And I’ll return in the cool of the day.
CHORUS