Hymns and Lessons for Proper 7 (Cycle B)

The Processional Hymn is “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun”:

The verses are: 1) Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run; shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise to pay thy morning sacrifice. 2) All praise to Thee who safe has kept and hast refreshed me while I slept. Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake, I may of endless light partake. 3) Lord, I my vows to Thee renew. Disperse my sins as morning dew; guard my first springs of thought and will; and with Thyself my spirit fill. 4) Direct, control, suggest, this day, all I design or do or say, that all my pow’rs, with all their might, in Thy sole glory may unite. 5) Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; praise Him all creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heav’nly host, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

The Prayer of the Day for today is “Almighty God, in Your mercy guide the course of this world so that Your church may joyfully serve You in godly peace and quietness; through Jesus “Christ, Your Son, our Lord.”

Both Job and the disciples are upset over what is going on in their lives. Job is upset and cries out that God is unjust to make him suffer so. The disciples are upset because their boat is about to sink in a storm at sea; they cry to the sleeping Jesus, “Don’t you care that we are about to drown.” When Job cries out, God comes to Job in a storm — but not with answers to Job’s questions or justifications for why He has allowed Job to suffer so. Instead, God comes with questions of His own for Job: “Where were you when I created this whole universe? Who are you to question the way I run this universe?” (Job 38:1-11) And God goes on for 4 chapters; at the end of which Job is sorry he ever asked questions in the first place. When the disciples are upset because their boat is about to sink in a storm at sea; they cry to the sleeping Jesus, “Don’t you care that we are about to drown?”, Jesus shows them He is the creator of the universe by stilling the storm. Then He asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith.” (Mark 4:35-41)

I think of all the people who cry out in fear and sorrow when their lives are caught in one of life’s many storms, and I know that they don’t expect God to snap at them: “Who are you to tell me how to run this universe? Don’t you have faith?” But that’s exactly what God does in these lessons. Jesus says, “Don’t I care? What do you think I’m doing in this boat?” And don’t forget that God may not have come to Job with answers for why He allows the faithful to suffer, but God Himself came in person. Considering that the Lord of the Universe is here in the boat with us, “in person”, during the storms of life, even though we could ASK for more (and we do), having God with us surely is enough. It has to be, because His presence is “all” we are going to get.

The Hymn of the Day is the wonderful “Evening and Morning”. In this glorious hymn we sing to our Creator an adoring hymn from believing hearts — a gift He prizes:

The verses are: 1) Evening and morning, sunset and dawning, wealth, peace, and gladness, Comfort in sadness: these are Thy works; all the glory be Thine! Times without number, awake or in slumber. Thine eye observes us, from danger preserves us, causing Thy mercy upon us to shine. 2) Father, Oh, hear me, pardon and spare me; calm all my terrors, blot out my errors, that by Thine eyes they may no more be scanned. Order my goings, direct all my doingd; as it may please Thee, retain or release me; all I commit to Thy fatherly hand. 3) Ills that still grieve me soon are to leave me; though billows tower, and winds gain power, after the storm the fair sun shows its face. Joys e’er increasing and peace never ceasing; these I shall treasure and share in full measure when in His mansions God grants me a place. 4) To God in heaven all praise be given! Come, let us offer and gladly proffer to the Creator the gifts He doth prize. He well receiveth a heart that believeth; hymns that adore Him are precious before Him and to His throne like sweet incense arise.

The Distribution Hymn is the beloved “When Peace Like a River”, and the story behind it especially fits today’s lessons: The writer of this hymn, Horatio G. Spafford, was a successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago with a lovely family — a wife, Anna, and five children. However, they were not strangers to tears and tragedy. Their young son died with pneumonia in 1871, and in that same year, much of their business was lost in the great Chicago fire.  Then, on Nov. 21, 1873, the French ocean liner, Ville du Havre was crossing the Atlantic from the U.S. to Europe with 313 passengers on board. Among the passengers were Mrs. Spafford and their four daughters. Although Mr. Spafford had planned to go with his family, he found it necessary to stay in Chicago to help solve an unexpected business problem. He told his wife he would join her and their children in Europe a few days later. His plan was to take another ship.

About four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, the Ville du Harve collided with a powerful, iron-hulled Scottish ship, the Loch Earn. Within approximately 12 minutes, the Ville du Harve slipped beneath the dark waters of the Atlantic, carrying with it 226 of the passengers including the four Spafford children.

A sailor, rowing a small boat over the spot where the ship went down, spotted a woman floating on a piece of the wreckage. It was Anna, still alive. He pulled her into the boat and they were picked up by another large vessel which, nine days later, landed them in Cardiff, Wales. From there she wired her husband a message which began, “Saved alone, what shall I do?” Mr. Spafford later framed the telegram and placed it in his office.

Another of the ship’s survivors, Pastor Weiss, later recalled Anna saying, “God gave me four daughters. Now they have been taken from me. Someday I will understand why.”

Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next available ship and left to join his grieving wife. With the ship about four days out, the captain called Spafford to his cabin and told him they were over the place where his children went down.

According to Bertha Spafford Vester, a daughter born after the tragedy, Spafford wrote “It Is Well With My Soul” while on this journey. And I find the following recording to be incredibly moving — and obviously the artist knows the backstory of this hymn”

The Recessional for this week is “Eternal Father Strong to Save”. This glorious version has the words to this hymn so you can sing along (if you can) and you can easily see how both the Old Testament Lesson and the Gospel lesson are reflected in this powerful hymn.

I look forward to worshiping this God together with you this week.

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