There is not much left to say. I have said most of what’s in my head and heart, maybe more. Over the past five years, I have contemplated 124 hymns. Some that I love. Some that I like. Some that I hate. Some that I didn’t even know. Some were favourites gifted to me by friends and relatives. Some I chose for reasons that were varied. Some contained words that were beyond my understanding, some beyond my own convictions. Most provided interesting challenges – musically, intellectually and spiritually.
I have come to understand that the written word has relevance that can span time and place, complications of history and evolution of creed. And that it is a dynamic force – not necessarily stuck in its original intent, but offering opportunities to find more, or less, than others before me, or those yet to come. These words have motion. They stand still only in our resistance to reading them with multiple lenses.
This is the last hymn in my church’s current hymnbook. It is a good place to end. With words written by Thomas Ken in 1694 and set to the beautiful Tallis Canon, composed in the 1560s. It is a tune that I could listen to forever. It is a tune I could sing every day and never tire of. It is special.
All praise to thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light.
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath thine own almighty wings.
Forgive me, Lord, for thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done
That with the world, myself, and thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.
Oh, may my soul on thee repose,
And with sweet sleep my eyelids close,
Sleep that shall me more vig’rous make
To serve my God when I awake.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.
Praise him, all creatures here below.
Praise him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
I am thankful for these songs we sing. I am thankful for those with whom I regularly get to sing them. I am thankful for those who taught them to me first. I am thankful for the gift that music is – giving me a place to think, struggle, learn, share, weep and soar. The combination of words and music that exists in this world is the entirety of my wealth. It is my greatest treasure and my most valuable collection. For those who throughout time and place have and continue to create this treasure, I thank you. You are not forgotten. Your gift is received into my open arms, my eager ears and my vulnerable heart.
For all the blessings of the light, and beneath almighty wings, we sing in thanks. We sing. We sing.