Sunday, November 3, 2013

For All the Saints

Some songs find their way to the forefront only once a year.  On Easter it is "Christ the Lord is Risen Today."  On Christmas it is "O Come, All Ye Faithful."  Today is All Saints Sunday in many churches and who can imagine such a worship service without the singing of "For All the Saints?"   It is one of those powerful, stirring, soul touching  pieces of music that simply turns an ordinary moment into something extraordinary.  There is nothing like a great crowd of earthly witnesses to Jesus Christ gathered to sing this great hymn of faith which cracks open the door of heaven giving us a glimpse of the eternal. 
It is amazing that the lyrics to the hymn are almost 150 years old.  An Anglican Bishop named William W. How wrote them in 1864 as a processional hymn.  In 1906 Ralph Vaughan Williams put the words to a new tune and since then "For All the Saints" has been sung by his music.  It is hardly likely that anything you and I might write will be remembered 150 years after we write it, but this particular piece of music was given life by the Holy Spirit and has been a blessing to the church for all that time.  Amazing.

For the first time in years I missed singing it with the people of resurrection faith on this day.  I was a guest preacher on a special event Sunday at a local church and the theme of the day carried us in another direction.  But, I sang it anyway.  I sang it in my spirit early this morning in the quietness of our home.  I have sung it loudly as I moved midst the outdoor places of this day.  And whenever I sang it, I remembered by name some of those saints who are now a part of that great cloud of heavenly witnesses. 

No comments: