One of the many things I look forward to on Sunday mornings is checking out the bulletin to see what hymns we are singing. Most mornings I recognize the hymn title. Other days I think "huh?" And on still other days I rejoice in seeing the title of a beloved hymn such as "Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us" or "Morning Has Broken" or "Earth and All Stars" or "Blessed Assurance." It's always a treat when one of those "huh?" hymns turns out to have words and a melody that lay a gentle hand on my heart, causing me to sigh "oh yes."
Music as part of worship is so very important to me. It's where my praise borrows the words that my heart just can't articulate. Music as part of my daily life is almost like the very air I breathe. I sing in the car, at the beach, while preparing meals, at choral rehearsals, in the shower. The only time I don't sing in the shower is first thing in the morning. That's when I remember what my Grandma used to say: "Sing before breakfast, cry before supper." I wonder where THAT old chestnut came from? What's wrong with singing before breakfast? This past week Fred and I had the joy of bird-sitting for Judy and Jon Walter's canary Pippin. Like most of us, I had a bird as a childhood pet, but had forgotten all that it entails. Birds are messy! They spray the seed from their feeding cup all over while pecking for just the right one. They poop on the edge of their feed cup. Eww. But then they sing. As soon as I removed the cover from Pippin's cage in the morning, I was rewarded with a chirp. And then, even before breakfast, he began to sing. First just some low warbles, where he crouched lower on his perch as if to make a firm foundation for his song. The trills and cheeps and chirps flowed up and down the scale and then he stretched his head up as the notes reached a crescendo. A few more tweets and then silence. Pippin cocked his head, looking around. What was he thinking? Was he asking for praise or was he giving praise? Praise for the promise of a scoop of seed or fresh water or maybe.....a piece of crisp green lettuce.
"Joy comes in the morning" is from scripture somewhere. Little Pippin finds joy in the morning and sets it to music, whether he's had breakfast yet or not. And then he sings all day, from the limited world of his safe little cage. We, who have the whole of creation to live and move in, could find a role model in that tiny yellow bird, and "sing to the Lord a new song,"* each and every day.
Thank you for the composers and writers
who make music for us to use
to sing your praise.
Thank you for the birds
whose music fills the skies
or just a small corner of the kitchen table.
Let their perpetual praise
be an example to us
to pray and praise with our own voices.
*from the hymn Earth and All Stars