Friday, February 27, 2015


Although “He who sings [well] prays twice” is a quote often attributed to St. Augustine, after research it seems to be an anonymous proverb, originally bene cantat bis orat. 

What St. Augustine actually wrote in his commentary on Psalm 74 is translated, He who sings praises, not only praises, but praises joyfully.” Another spin-off from the original thought is "He who sings Scripture, prays twice." Be that as it may, through the ages Christian believers have joyfully sung their faith and praised and adored God with thoughts and words based on the Scriptures.

I have two hymnbooks available beside me when I read the Scriptures and pray and they are both part of my daily communication with God; one is my lifetime familiar classic Protestant hymnal, and the other is the hymnal we use in our Catholic parish. Both are full of rich praises based on Scripture. I sing and pray from them both.
The beautiful Catholic hymns at first were new to me and are now beloved, such as Jesus, My Lord, My God, My All; Holy God, We Praise Thy Name; Jesus, Remember Me; O Sacrament Most Holy; and On Eagles' Wings. The Catholic hymnal also contains dozens of hymns from my Protestant background such as How Great Thou Art; Christ, the Lord, is Risen Today; Joyful, Joyful We Adore You; O God, Our Help in Ages Past; Love Divine, All Loves Excelling; Come, Thou Almighty King; and Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.

Seeking to encourage my friend who is in the midst of storms of life involving the suffering of his “earth suit,” his mortal body, I was struck by how many hymns pick up on the theme of Jesus, the Rock, our Refuge and Shelter, and our hiding place. They are based on Scriptures such as Psalm 61:6 and 7, “God only is my rock and salvation, my refuge....” “They drank from the spiritual Rock that accompanied them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). “He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of the Almighty...He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge...” (Psalm 91:1,4).

There is a time to stand courageously and fight the battles of life. But in our human weakness and pain there are also times to hide in a place of safety and quiet and peace protected from the storm. Some of the precious hymns express these rich thoughts: “O safe to the Rock that is higher than I, My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly...So weary...Thine would I be...Thou blest Rock of Ages, I'm hiding in Thee...How oft in the conflict, when pressed by the foe, I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe, How often, when trials like sea billows roll, Have I hidden in Thee, O Thou Rock of my soul.” And from another hymn: “The Lord's our Rock, in Him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm, Secure whatever ill betide...O, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land...the raging storms may round us beat...we'll never leave our safe Thou our Helper ever near...A shelter in the time of storm.” And “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee....”

It is not cowardly to take shelter under God's wings and let the storm pass by. It is prudent. “Jesus calls us o'er the tumult of life's wild, restless sea” inviting us who are weary and heavy laden to come to Him. “There is a place of quiet rest, Near to the heart of God, a place where sin cannot molest, Near to the heart of God. O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God, Hold us who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.”

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

Love this post, Leona. Hymns provide such a balm for those with weary hearts.