Musings on the Mass Music for 5th Sunday Ordinary

When people ask me my favorite season, I struggle to choose.  I love springtime, especially here as everything explodes in blooms.  I love the freedom of summer with more travel and adventures. I love autumn, too. As a student who loved school and as a teacher, the excitement of a new school year is palpable just thinking about it.  This season more than any other for me is a promise of what new adventures are ahead as we begin a new year.  Winter – nothing like the excitement of a snow day!  An unexpected treat! Usually, I narrow it down to about a few weeks from mid-January until my birthday mid-March.  Those are probably my least favorite weeks; generally, we stay inside because it’s cold. But these days – we have been staying in for nearly a year! That’s what I thought of when I read the reading from Job.  “Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?….I shall not see happiness again.” Clearly Job is struggling.  I think it is great that we have these accounts to remind us not all days are easy, and we need to address things when we struggle.  Certainly, Covid has shown a spotlight on our need to care for mental health as well as physical! The remainder of the readings all deal with healing in one form or another. 

One of the hardest things from the past year has been the loss of music as a healing source.  I could ramble on and on how music heals us both in aesthetic and physical ways.  Regardless, the easiest medium for us to experience music, singing, has been forbidden.  I’ve looked at this in two ways: First, a challenge to be creative and find new ways of experiencing music and second, realizing that the time away from singing, I pray, will make our hearts hungry to vocally express our praise in the future.  As things are changing so are the rules around how we worship.  It is important to me that we are all safe and healthy.  It’s pretty simple:  the more people singing, the more respiratory particles there will be that can be circulated in the air.  Since a person can have the virus and not even know it, we still need to be careful.  It feels like the end is in sight though!  I still stand by my urgings from the past several months – if you watch the service online – PLEASE raise your voices to heaven and sing along! I have many of the books from last year that will just be recycled.  If you would like one, please contact me!  There are mostly the same hymns from year to year with the exception of some new pieces. 

Our music for this weekend will focus on healing.  The opening hymn For the Healing of the nations, Lord we pray with one accord. This hymn addresses the healing of the peoples in a nation and our call to help one another.  For the setting of the table, we will sing/hear Janet Vogt’s Age to Age This beautiful hymn expresses the love and trust we have in God.  For the in-person masses communion hymn, we will hear Janet Whitaker’s As Christ is for Us which reminds us of the concept of ‘do unto others’ as Christ does for us.  Then for the sending hymn, we will sing/hear Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley’s Stand by Me.  A fitting way to begin Black History Month as well as the words are fitting for the readings.  This stirring hymn asks God, “When the storms of life are raging, stand by me”.  To me this comes full circle from Job’s lament of the first reading.  Yes, there will be times when life is tough but even in those times, God stands with us.  Until we can pray together in song again, stay healthy, stay well and stay warm in these dreary days. 

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