Psalm 149 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 149

“Hallelujah!

Sing to the Lord a new song,

God’s praise in the assembly of the faithful.”

Psalm 149:1

I prepared my small part, a few words of gospel and a communion prayer of thanksgiving, for the funeral of my brother in Christ, a member of our congregation, and an outstanding organist and choir director.  Chuck and I had met a long time ago when we were both active organists in the area.  At the time he was serving in a long tenure as director of music at St. Paul, New Cumberland, where he helped design and oversee the installation of an organ and trained many—children, youth and adults—to love singing.

By the time I arrived at St. Paul as a second-career pastor, he had long since moved on to work in other congregations.  In his recent years of semi-retirement, he came back to worship in his church “home,” sing in our now small choir, occasionally substitute for our organist, purchase anthems for us, and gift his home grand piano to our worship space.  There is an organ composition he wrote that is sitting on my desk, his encouragement for a busy pastor to start playing again.

I said my part was small, because Chuck, always generous, always reveling in the gathering of singers, always loving a party, always orchestrating something, had planned his funeral.  Organists, singers, composers, and symphony players gathered with non-musicians, friends, family and servers from the local restaurant and there, according to his previously planned request, we sang God’s praise.

The act of gathering people to sing God’s praise epitomizes my friend’s life.  This is what he loved to do.  He had carefully chosen hymns, anthems, and scriptures, organists, soloists, and participants to make beautiful music and sing the good news of our hope in Christ who gave his life for us.  In one sense few preacher’s words were needed beyond the ones carried in song.

Thus his first act in death was to gather us into the life-giving kind of musical praise we don’t often experience.  Sure, we’ve attended glorious concerts.  Many of us have participated in impressive recitals. We’ve even planned and attended festival worship services.  But on a weekly basis many in today’s gathering offer praise and bear this music vocation  more simply with fewer resources. Today all the stops were pulled, literally and figuratively.  We eulogized little.  Instead this diversified congregation sang strongly and courageously, gently and beautifully. The music he set before us was like a rich meal that carried the gospel and renewed faith.  What he asked us to sing pointed us to the Christ in whom he had always hoped, the Creator in whom he had dedicated his talent in praise.  We received his parting gift and invitation to participate in something larger than ourselves, to sing an ancient song of praise that had supported him in life, a song which he hoped would support us in our grieving,  a song which will call us one day to resurrection and the kind of praise we have yet to imagine.  It was a foretaste of the feast to come.

Suggestions:

1. Read the verse and reflect on its meaning for you.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder? Describe a time when you  have been caught up in praise.

2. Read all of Psalm 149 and see how this verse fits into the whole.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this psalm’s meaning for you.

The next post will be on Psalm 150, our last in this series.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting an (almost) daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at http://elainedent.net or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.

Comments

  1. This post. Exactly what I want for my funeral….

  2. What a beautiful tribute to a generous life.

  3. holly simons says:

    Your inspired thoughts and comments have left a deep impact, Elaine…. the photos as well. It’s been such a privilege to walk this journey with you. I so appreciated the post about your dear choir director musician who recently joined the throngs in the heavenly choir. What a fabulous tribute to his life and legacy…. oh, the joy we have as musicians to bless God, and one another, as we offer back to Him the gifts He has given. I sure hope you get to “revisit” some of your organ playing in your latter years. I know how you love this gift, and I do hope and believe the door will open again at some season for you to sink into that place yet again.
    Meanwhile, it is a joy to think of your pastoral gifts, and experience them in the recent postings on your walk through Virginia, and through His Psalms. Bless you, dear sister…. and thank you so much.