“This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
IN CHILDREN’S CHOIR rehearsal one day a couple years ago, I was rehearsing an anthem that featured this psalm verse. The song, by my friend Larry Schultz, has a middle section with his own thoughtful and instructive lyric that goes:
Sing even when the day goes wrong,
And you must sing a silent song.*
This is an important part of training up a child, I think. “Because not every day will be great,” I told the boys and girls. “Some days will be hard.”
But choosing not to go into my own considerable griefs and losses through the years, I said “like the ones when I can’t find one of my shoes and it’s time to leave for school.” Several heads nodded with understanding. The light came on for one rascally 3rd-grader, who offered this wisdom:
“I LIKE to have bad days.
I want some to be bad so it won’t get boring.
I want to have fun sometimes AND feel sad other times!
I want it ALL!”
Out of the mouths of babes. The four adults in the room could only all look at one other because there were no words that could improve on the moment. Only music could…so I cued the pianist.
This is the day
On this particular day of American Thanksgiving, let us be thankful for the gift of life. All of it. No clichéd versions of a life free of hardships, including pandemics, layoffs, and disasters. Even a child knows that’s not true to life. Yet we have so much to be thankful for!
I choose to take the long view of God’s goodness and life’s blessings. I will observe how gratitude holds up against the problems we will encounter. I will give thanks.
Now thank we all our God
I THINK of Martin Rinkart (1586-1649), of Eilenberg, Germany, lived during the awful time of the Thirty Years’ War. Conditions when he wrote the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God” were very harsh. The town was under siege and overcrowded. Sickness and disease was amok, and as the only clergyman left in the small walled town, the burials fell to him — which amounted to sometimes as many as 50 per day. Yet he was able to express his gratitude and trust in God:
O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.
Now Thank We All Our God
Words: Martin Rinkart, 1636; tr. Catherine Winkworth, 1858
Music: Johann Crüger, 1647.
This is the day; now thank we all!
* Quoting Let Us Rejoice and Sing, by Larry E. Schultz, © 1998 Choristers Guild, CGA802
Now Thank We All Our God, piano arrangement by Tom Howard, © 1987 Maranatha! Music.