I’m waiting for Jack’s sermon on Revelation 3:7-13 to help me understand more fully what the letter to the church in Philadelphia means, but my reading of the passage could be summarized in two words: Hold on! Philadelphia is a church that is down, but not out. They have very little power, but their endurance is great. The letter seems to say, “Hold on for a little while longer and everything will change. Those that are in power now will bow at your feet; and your shaky position in this world will be traded for a place as a pillar in the new Jerusalem.”
I was tempted to go with a new Jerusalem theme (“O Holy City, Seen of John,” “Sing Choirs of New Jerusalem,” and the Rwandan “Heaven Opened to Isaiah”), but instead opted for gathering and communion music that is more generally fitting for the season of Eastertide. However, I did find the perfect Psalm to prepare the sermon: Psalm 125. You’ll remember that Psalm 125 promises that the Lord will surround his people like the mountains surround Jerusalem. (Read it. It’s incredibly comforting.) There’s a Brazilian song from the authors of “All of My Heart” based on this Psalm that drives home the message in jazz ballad form. It is well worth singing, and it will also give me a chance to let some of my jazzers open up a bit.
Also new to COS this week is the offertory song, “God We Honor You.” Written by my friend Jim Clemens, it will serve as the offertory song for the season of Eastertide. We’ll spend a few weeks learning the tune, and then begin to introduce the canon in the future.
Finally, a note for you hymn geeks. The 17th century Johann Franck hymn, “Clothe Yourself, My Soul, with Gladness” appeared in the grey Psalter Hymnal with the Johann Crüger tune, SCHMUCKE DICH. In the red Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal a new translation of that text is paired with a lilting Latin tune composed by Evy Lucío Cordova. We’ll sing both versions in this week’s communion. Both versions are exquisite, and I hope singing them back to back will give us a deeper understanding of how music can enhance different aspects of the same text.