Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Lord Revive Us!"

Savior, visit Thy plantation,
Grant us, Lord, a gracious rain!
All will come to desolation,
Unless Thou return again.

Lord, revive us!
All our help must come from Thee.(repeat)
Keep no longer at a distance,
Shine upon us from on high!
Lest for want of Thy assistance,
Ev’ry plant should droop and die.

As I sat in the 3rd floor room of University Baptist Church in St. Paul on Sunday evening singing, I decided that I love this song. I'm inspired by its words, by the people who said, "We need rain," and by the rain that I hear on the skylight. Sunday night, and tonight, I think of growing up in Silver Run Baptist Church with farmers and prayers for rain. The yards around here are brown, unless people have been watering, which they have in large part, but that still doesn't help the way a good rain does. This song's words made me think about watching Awake, My Soul! and the people who wrote (and write) and sang (and sing) songs from The Sacred Harp. In my analysis of Genesis worship/LA night I talked about music that is indigenous to communities, and my affirmation of that. I love The Hymnal, 1982 but I have to say that I love "Return Again" because it's the same kind of thing. An honest plea by people who need God's provision to survive and subsist. I think that's what gets me about it: its honesty, and lack of pretense.
But that's looking at it on a surface level, which I think is a very real level to this song. But there's also looking at it from a metaphorical perspective, which is very real too, I think. We're the plants that are dependent on God's help. And if we tell ourselves we aren't dependent on God's help we're lying to ourselves, to God, and to those around us. The language might be "simple" but I think it's profound and beautiful. "Lest for want of Thy assistance, Ev'ry plant should droop and die." The imagery there is easy to understand: without God - via rainfall of water or outpouring of spirit - the harvest dies. Period. And it's an image most people can understand on at least the face value of the text.
I might add some more entries on songs as I encounter them, or songs that are in my heart for some reason or another. The rain has stopped here now, but the night air has been cooled. The traffic is almost null. People are signing off of AIM and Google. My eyelids are starting to droop...
Lord, it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen. A New Zealand Prayer Book, p.184

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