Psalms and Hymns and Glorious Things

A couple of years ago I heard the hymn Comfort, Comfort Ye My People (J. Olearius-1671, Tr. C. Winkworth-1863, Freu Dich Seur-Genevan Psalter-1551) for the first time. The words were a soothing balm to my heart. Each Sunday I search the bulletin to see if the hymn is listed. While working on the Cantus I came across the hymn and noticed it was listed under the “advent” section.

Not knowing if one should “request” a hymn, I took a leap and mentioned my love of the hymn to Dr. Schuler and asked him if we could sing it soon. He said I should look for it some time around late November. So I waited six months. In early December, I went on vacation to San Diego. I came back and reminded Dr. Schuler of the hymn. He said, “Oh, we sang that last Sunday.”

So that meant I had to wait another year. Then one Sunday I noticed we were singing an advent hymn. I leaned over to Paula and pointed to the word “advent” in the Cantus. She raised her eyebrows in a “what about it” look. I turned the page and pointed to the title of the next hymn. There it was, oh so close, just one page turn away. Comfort, Comfort Ye My People. She understood.

The fact that I now love Psalms and Hymns is strange. I have a Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, Black Gospel background. There’s no clapping in our service at Christ Church–unless it follows an engagement announcement. No toe tapping. No swaying to the music. No drums, bass guitar, or team of singers leading us in worship. And yet worship is far more meaningful to me than ever before.

I could have parked myself in front of the piano and played the song, but it’s so much more glorious when done in harmony, in worship with fellow saints. And now, so many months later, there were plenty of people aware of my love for the hymn. Sunday morning I heard the words I’d longed to hear: “Please turn to page 226 Comfort, Comfort Ye My People. The Joneses all turned their heads and smiled at me. Eric (age 6) sitting next to me said, “That’s your song.” They understood my joy and shared in it. We sang…

Comfort, comfort ye My People,

Speak ye peace, thus saith Our God;

Comfort those who sit in darkness,

Bowed beneath their sorrow’s load;

Speak ye to Jerusalem

Of the peace that waits for them;

Tell her that her sins I cover,

And her warfare now is over.

Yea, her sins our God will pardon,

Blotting out each dark misdeed;

All that well deserved His anger

He will no more see nor heed.

She has suffered many a day,

Now her griefs have passed away;

God will change her pining sadness

Into everspringing gladness.

For the herald’s voice is crying

In the desert far and near,

Bidding all men to repentance,

Since the kingdom now is here.

O that warning cry obey!

Now prepare for God a way!

Let the valleys rise to meet Him,

And the hills bow down to greet Him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,

Make the rougher places plain;

Let your hearts be true and humble,

As befits His holy reign,

For the glory of the Lord

Now o’er earth is shed abroad,

And all flesh shall see the token

That His Word is never broken.

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