Sunday, October 18, 2009

To clamor never waken

This morning our post-Communion hymn had words from the ancient Syriac liturgy of Malabar (translated, of course). Here are the first two verses:

Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands
That holy things have taken;
Let ears that now have heard thy songs
To clamor never waken.

Lord, may the tongues which ‘Holy’ sang
Keep free from all deceiving;
The eyes which saw Thy love be bright
Thy bless├Ęd hope perceiving.

Unfortunately, the tune for this is just dull as dull can be, which is why I don't provide a link. Any readers familiar with the Anglican hymnal will know what I'm talking about. I wish that someone would re-translate the words and set them to better music.

I was especially struck by the idea here that there is something lost when those who have once been committed to Christ wander away from Him. In contemporary terms, we can think of this in connection with children raised by Christian parents who go off the rails. If you know a child who loves Jesus Christ right now, there is something inside you that cries out, "Oh, Lord, keep them by your side! Don't let those little eyes be defiled, those hands, that body, those ears."

This song applies this idea to all of us. If we have been in the Lord's house and have praised Him, if our hands have taken holy things in Communion, we should pray that God would keep us ever near him and not let us do anything contrary, as the Prayer Book says, to our profession.

The mention of "clamor" particularly struck me, because it can be so hard to find peace and quiet when one leaves one's house nowadays. I admit to leading a sheltered life, and I'm grateful for it. I was in a waiting room this last week for quite a while. Walked in to be confronted in my face by a large TV up high on the wall with flickering images of an ostensibly naked man and woman rolling about in bed together. I never found out what that was all about (not that I wanted to know), because the image switched quickly to some sort of commercial involving someone's breaking an egg. Such is the world of television. I asked at the desk if we had to have the TV on. They said we could turn it off if no one in the room minded. As all the other people were reading (sensible folk) and said they didn't mind, we turned it off.

Fifty minutes of peace ensued. Then one of the girls behind the desk said, "It is too quiet in here!" and turned it back on. By this time, the only people in the waiting room other than me were an older couple, and the woman was apparently trying to doze with her head on her husband's shoulder. So I spoke up: "What's wrong with quiet?" I said in piercing tones. "Quiet is good!" The older woman seconded me, and we got the receptionist to turn off the sound. She justified herself in an ad hoc fashion by saying, "We have to have it on in case someone comes in who wants it." Really? Then why didn't they have it off before I walked in, in case someone came in who didn't want it? But of course, the default position is that it must be on. You vill vatch television, if we have to cram it down your throat. I take a lot of satisfaction out of having at least gotten the clamor silenced by speaking up.

That, I suppose, is a digression from the Syriac liturgy of Malabar. I pray for my readers this week that they would have some peace and some silence, and for all of us that the lips that sang "holy" will be kept free from all that would grieve Our Lord.

Have a good week.

3 comments:

William Luse said...

"the default position is that it must be on"

She just wanted to feed her addiction. She likes to watch it while filing her nails between phone calls and text messages.

"that the lips that sang "holy" will be kept free from all that would grieve Our Lord."

What if it's too late for that? Any way to reverse the damage?

Lydia McGrew said...

Now, you know the answer to that better than I do. Yes and no. You can say you're sorry and be forgiven, but "damage" is a multifaceted thing, and you can just pray that it hasn't gone too far.

I'm preaching to myself here, too, you understand.

William Luse said...

"you can just pray that it hasn't gone too far."

Uh-oh.