Isaiah 12:2-6 | December 9, 2021
Sing Praises to the Lord
by Rose Browning
My father loved music, especially songs from his past-favorite gospel hymns sung in his church as a youth and songs from the 1940’s, particularly WWII. He was thrilled when I learned to play the piano well enough for us to have informal sing-alongs with his favorites.
While I probably have a broader love of musical genres than my dad, like him, I too love the music of my past, which brings me to Christmas, and particularly Advent. Advent is absolutely my favorite season in the church calendar. I love the sense of expectancy and wonder it brings. I love the contemplative preparation it inspires and the opportunity it brings to quiet my mind and focus my thoughts on the coming of the Christ child. The church of my childhood wasn’t known for changing things up much, so the choir sang the exact same call to worship during Advent every Sunday, every year. I think the words of this haunting ancient hymn capture so beautifully the spirit of preparation called for during this season:
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
Every year, every first Sunday of Advent, we sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” in my church. This verse is a reminder to joyfully await the coming of Christ:
O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
I chose to write the devotional for today because I love the sense of joy found in the scripture passage from Isaiah: “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.” (v. 5) Like Isaiah’s Jewish audience, we are reminded to joyfully place our hope and faith in God, our creator and sustainer. I love the reminder that God is in control, that when I put my trust in God’s strength, I don’t need to be afraid.
As Christians we expectantly await God’s heavenly kingdom, but we also are reminded in scripture that God’s kingdom is now. As I ponder spirit-minded things, I think about the love God has shown us in Jesus, sent to exemplify a life of acceptance, compassion and service to all people.
May this song from our childhood be our prayer:
Be near us, Lord Jesus, we ask thee to stay
Close by us forever, and love us we pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And fit us for heaven [and Earth]
To live with thee there.