Haiku Friday: Hymns

Eighteen years ago this month, I was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. So my heart grieves over this week’s awful news from the City of Charleston, where nine people — all of them African-Americans — were murdered in a racially motivated shooting at Emanuel AME Church. They had been attending a Wednesday night Bible study and prayer meeting, which was the same kind of mid-week gathering I went to as a teenager in my home state of North Carolina.

Last night my wife Carrie wrote a reflection about this sickening violence and why we take both ourselves and our children to church. I really hope that you’ll take a few minutes to read it by clicking this link to her blog. She wept at the dinner table because we had just watched a video, which you can see below, from yesterday’s gathering of hundreds of people in Charleston at Morris Brown AME Church. They came there, in the shadow of death, to pray together and sing hymns like this one:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O, may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne!

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

Those words have stayed with me through the night. Hymns do that sometimes. This week’s haiku theme, therefore, is about the words and the hymn tunes that have shaped us. Perhaps they have expressed beautifully the faith that is in us or the faith that we have rejected or the faith that we would very much like to have — and long to have — but don’t. Try to say something about that in one verse with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line. This is what has been on my mind in the midst of so much sorrow:

I stand on the Rock,
but I don’t stand there alone.
No one ever does.

3 thoughts on “Haiku Friday: Hymns

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