There is a line in a hymn by Ronald Klug, “Rise, Shine, You People” that plays often in my mind since I first heard this stirring 20th century hymn. In recent months, it has become a constant reflexive refrain for me to the disturbing news-of-the-day . . .
“Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.”
Many ask in light of all the escalating troubles in the world, “What can I do about it? Little old me? Just one person living on a quiet street in Your Town USA?” Here are two important things we can do . . .
Sing and Pray.
Pray and Sing.
Sing your prayers.
Pray your songs.
Alarmed by world news that is increasingly savage, along with my denomination’s recent call to a day of prayer and fasting for persecuted Christians (and other people groups) around the world, I want to renew my commitment. I want to part of the solution. Do you too? Join me in countering evil, promoting justice and peace by singing the church’s songs and praying her prayers with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
|King Denethor Feasts While Pippin Sings|
I recently saw a video of a festival at a church where only a handful of people in a filled sanctuary were actually singing on a congregational hymn! This was not because the song was unfamiliar or they didn’t have tools to sing along. I watched incredulous at what the face of apathy looks like in the pews. Were these people focused on something other, like the stupefied King Denethor in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, oblivious, self-focused while Pippin sings a prophetic song?
What a contrast to the another King, not one in a fairy-tale, but the King of the Ages. A King who bled to rescue his people, yet ever lives to intercede for them and bring them home to glory. Here is the blessed framework for living in difficult times; not a cowering fear or lethargic apathy, but confident and faithful living under the gaze and grace of our Lord.
|Anonymous, Yaroslavl School, 17th cent.|
The hymn “Rise, Shine, You People” is especially embraced in Lutheran churches and is included in their recent hymnals (Augsburg Publishing House is the copyright holder). The text is so rich with imagery:
Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
Our human story; God in Him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
With grace unbounded.
See how He sends the pow’rs of evil reeling;
He brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
Now are forgiven.
|ASCENSION, John Singleton Copley, 1775|
Come, celebrate, your banners high unfurling,
Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
Of Jesus’ glory.
Tell how the Father sent His Son to save us.
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from every nation
His new creation.
With this and many other songs of the church, we are challenged to rise up and counter evil with the goodness, truth, and love that comes through our Lord Jesus Christ. One person praying and singing, one congregation praying and singing, many churches . . . well you get the idea. Our songs help convict and challenge us not to stand idly by in the face of injustice and evil.
And most of all, songs like this turn our attention to our Lord. He is not absent, unmindful, or unable to help. We can be at peace in our hearts, even in the midst of mountains of difficulty, when he is our constant companion and focus.
Here is a prayer to use when news of thousands of people fleeing to a barren mountaintop or a journalist’s beheading makes one feel ill and helpless:
Prayer of Intercession for a
Time of Persecution and Suffering
With trust in the power of God’s word, we pray:R: You are our life and our salvation! [all pray response]For all those imprisoned or persecuted for the sake of God’s word:- Strengthen their hearts by your presence and word. RFor all those who suffer for their faith:- Grant them the courage to persevere in their commitment to you. RFor those of other faiths who are persecuted by evil men:- Remember they are your creation and protect them Lord. RFor all those who have the means to help those who suffer:- Grant them the wisdom and courage to know what to do and do it. RFor all Christians who are called to prayer:- Grant them and us the discipline to pray earnestly for all who suffer persecution. RFor all those who have died for the Gospel:- Raise them to newness of life forever. R(other personal or specific petitions)The Lord’s Prayer … [all pray]Closing blessing: May the Lord guard our going and coming, both now and forever. Amen. (cf Psalm 121:8)
May the Lord grant all Christians everywhere the determination and strength to lift up holy hands in prayer and song without ceasing.*
~ ~ ~
View the hymn and its tune here:
Here’s a discussion of the text to the hymn, “Rise, Shine You People” from “Common Hymnsense” by Madeliene Marshall (Pages 190-191)
Hear a choral concertato here (click on "Samples")
* For other practical ways to help, check out this list of organizations through which you can contribute financially or serve alongside in other ways, or check out resources in your own church or denomination. Citizens in the USA need to exercise their democratic freedoms and contact elected officials with their concerns and opinions. Contact your Senator, Representatives, or the White House here.