choir

Ned and I celebrated our second anniversary this week. On the actual anniversary day, I was staking out congressmen in marble hallways in D.C., and Ned was examining documents in Honduras. Awesome. But happily, we were both able to celebrate together the weekend prior.

The first hymn in our wedding was “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.”  It’s what Fr. Sloane calls “a real chestnut” of a hymn.  It was one of a few hymns we could find that we thought would be familiar to our friends and family from Catholic, Episcopal and Evangelical backgrounds.  In fact, it was actually the first-ever congregational hymn at my mom’s childhood Catholic church. They weren’t so much into hymn sings back in the day, but when Vatican II started to encourage more congregational singing in the 1960s, my mom’s church dutifully brought everyone in and taught them how to sing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Because it’s just that kind of hymn.

It was beautiful to hear everyone sing it so enthusiastically at our wedding. I wept.

I wept again when listening to it last weekend. But the hymn sounded very different two years later. On our wedding day, I felt like my mind and body were overflowing with the lyrics — it was a joyous, praiseworthy day. I was in awe of how God had provided for us, led us to that place and called Ned and I together.

Our marriage is still truly wonderful — but I’ve become used to a wonderful marriage, so I often forget to be thankful for it on a daily basis.

(sorry, Ned.)

(sorry, Jesus.)

Recently, I’ve been slightly prone to despair. I’ve dwelt on some of the disappointing things in my life, my friends’ lives, the world … rather than on all of the good things for which I should be so thankful. There is surely more in the “blessings” category than “disappointments.”  But it really only takes one disappointment to take over my whole brain.

Hast thou not seen? Um, yeah, sorry, I haven’t been seeing. Or trusting. Or praising.

I thought of the psalms that start with laments and end with praise, how even in hard times (and it seems that people in the Bible had MUCH harder times than me), God is faithful and worthy of praise.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? … My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

So, as we puttered down the road on a slightly-overcast but lovely day in Northern Virginia last weekend, I tearfully, joyfully sang along with this hymn. And I meant it.

*

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord
Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen all that thou needest hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord
Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath,
Come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly forever adore Him.

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