Connecting Beyond the Walls


Today’s word of hope comes from our own Jake Hill, Music Associate / Organist.

If you have any ties with the music community, you’ve probably heard from countless acquaintances about the many discussions swirling around the performing arts and their respective practices for gathering audiences and crowds as we trudge forward in this illness-heavy season. Unfortunately, none of the conversations have gained popularity for their positive, hope-filled prescriptions of soon-filled concert halls and the reuniting of large ensembles. Instead, their popularity stretches from shore to shore with a rather stark message of still-darkened halls and stages for some time to come.

By now, we’re settling in – as strange as that sounds – to this current ‘normal’ we find ourselves in, and none of us are surprised by such blatant words, understanding how those words similarly apply to us, the church, and all her many music-offering ensembles- the largest of which being the congregations.

In my ‘Philosophy of Music’ class in graduate school, we collectively met for a three-hour stretch every Friday and discussed the ‘why’ of music. What is its purpose? Why do we perform? It being a philosophy class, you’d guess there were no wrong answers- but many different ones. One opinion seemed to be shared, though, and that is that music is an outward expression, an invitation that we invite our audiences (and congregations) to share in the music with us. I have to tell you, if I had to commit, exclusively, either to performing solo literature or accompanying our congregational hymns, the latter would be my choice, without hesitation. I would argue that hymn singing is one of our most significant elements in any worship service- those hymn texts are rich with prayers, steeped in miniature sermons, act as outward praise and unite us all in one voice. Clearly, we are blessed beyond measure with both ministers and laity that offer incredibly reverent spoken prayers and truth-bringing sermons, too- but when we sing hymns, we do so audibly, as one body.

As one fascinated with liturgy and one who adores this church-wide musical collaboration, it is worth mentioning that churches, the world over, who follow the same lectionary tracks, often sing at least one common hymn on a given Sunday. Think about that- the same song, the same text, being offered to God on a global scale. The profundity of that common expression is extraordinary and. In this organist’s mind, elevates our worship to an even higher level.

We don’t know when concerts will resume. We don’t know when sports arenas and stadiums will again be filled. We don’t know yet when we will gather again and when we will offer congregational song. But music has weathered many storms long before this one and I have faith it will weather many long after. For now, we must trust that our mighty God will hold us while we’re weak; we must bid our anxious fears subside; we must forever sing songs of praise!

 Be comforted friends and continue to sing!



Hymn, Guide me, O thou great Redeemer

Sung at Westminster Abbey with the congregation, Abbey Choir and
is accompanied by the Sub Organist and staff Brass players

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more.  

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer,
Be thou still my strength and shield.  

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell’s Destruction
Land me safe on Canaan’s side:
Songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee. 

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