A Day in the Life of the Hymns in My Head, Recorded by a Music Editor

Oct 28, 2020 2:34:18 PM / by David Sims

6:48 am — Hit snooze.

6:56 am — Hit snooze again.

7:14 am — [humming in the shower:]

God is here today;
as certain as the air I breathe,
as certain as the morning sun that rises,
as certain when I sing you’ll hear my song.
(All Creation Sings [ACS] # 993)

8:02 am — [Coffee is brewing, and suddenly my toast pops up out of the toaster.] Bread’s up! Ha, that’s like the line from “God’s Work, Our Hands:”

God is at work
in and around us:
seedlings are sprouting
and bread’s on the rise!
(ACS # 1000)

Also, how cool is it to have a hymn number 1000? What a time to be alive. Also, what a time to have toast.

10:00 am — Another virtual staff meeting. I miss working together as colleagues so much, and I’m thankful for all those who care for others in this time. I turn to page 54 to read a new prayer for caregivers:

God, our refuge and strength, we thank you for the compassion you infuse in your people, especially those who care for the physical and emotional needs of friends, family, and strangers. Strengthen all caregivers in body and spirit. Refresh them when weary; console them when anxious; comfort them in grief; and hearten them in discouragement. Giver of peace, enlarge our patience and enable us to embrace all those who live with difficulties we may one day share; in Jesus’ name. Amen. (ACS p. 54)

10:32 am — Yes, I’m paying attention to my meeting, but I’m also watching a woodpecker test out our deck with a few investigatory taps.

10:34 am — Wow, now it’s really trying to make a hole in our house. Can people see me watching it? Do I turn off my video to scare it away? It’s a cool-looking bird, though. Makes me think of that middle stanza of “Earth Is Full of Wit and Wisdom:”

Spider, human, redwood, gecko,
monkey, chicken, mouse, and snake
live within a single fabric:
cloth that only God could make.
(ACS # 1064)

I cannot wait to sing that hymn in church and watch everyone’s delighted faces as we sing that line! We’ve used it to follow the creation story at the Easter Vigil several times, and it’s so fun to sing together.

11:05 am — Stretch break after a whole morning spent looking at a screen. For something beautiful, I move to the piano to play ACS # 958 “To Christ Belong, in Christ Behold” to the tune WONDERS by Robert Buckley Farlee. I love big melodic leaps so much. And Susan Briehl’s text is amazing. I’ve never noticed before how her first stanza starts “. . . God’s wonders still unfold” and the last stanza ends “. . . God’s wonders still untold.” Maybe that’s something hopeful for the world right now: there are so many wondrous things yet untold.

12:00 pm — Lunch!

2:00 pm — Another meeting on Zoom. As a devotion, I teach them “God Welcomes All,” a short eight-measure song by John Bell that can be learned by ear.

God welcomes all, strangers and friends;
God’s love is strong and it never ends.
(ACS # 978)

3:16 pm — A composer asks for assistance editing a text they wrote for an anthem, so I open to the “Scriptural Images for God” in ACS, a list three pages long of all the ways God is imaged throughout the Bible. Truth, rain, silence, hen, advocate, composer, parent: how incredible that this list will be in every pew edition, making the richness of the Bible’s images for God available to everyone in the church.

4:30 pm — I hear the news that a beloved member of my congregation has entered palliative care. She loves language and poetry and we often discussed favorite hymn texts after church, so I type out the lyrics to one of the new hymns to send her:

Let my spirit always sing,
to your Spirit answering,
through the silence, through the pain
know my hope is not in vain,
like a feather on your breath
trust your love, through life and death.
(ACS # 1020)

6:08 pm — Sunset here in Minnesota. The whole ground is covered in snow and the world feels brilliant and covered in a sparkling, crystalline blue as the sun sets. I love how Susan Palo Cherwien captures that in this evening hymn, which we will use as one of our hymns during online Advent worship.

Behold, unveiled the vesper skies:
the evening has begun,
and prayer and praise like incense rise
as sets the golden sun.

How blest are you, all-loving God,
who weaves both day and night,
a starry mantle for our road,
the shadow and the light.
(ACS # 997)

6:30 pm — Sitting down to dinner. As a table blessing I say the words that begin the evening-specific options for Holy Communion Setting 12:

Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God,
creator of the stars of night,
companion at the evening table,
breath over the deep waters. Amen.

8:45 pm — Is there any news that doesn’t feel overwhelming right now? Another short song comes to my mind as I put down my phone to stop mindlessly scrolling through the news.

Though the earth shall change,
though the mountains tremble,
though the waters rage,
you, God, are here.
Though the nations war,
though the peoples battle,
though the empire falters,
we will not fear.
(ACS # 1035)

11:00 pm — A prayer for evening:

To you, O God, painter of both night and day, guiding star and healing sun, breath of peace and wind of change, be all glory, all honor, all praise this night unto the coming dawn, now and forever. Amen.

(Holy Communion Setting 12, p. 38)

11:18 pm — I know I should put my phone down and go to sleep, but one more hymn keeps going through my head:

O God, amid these joys of life,
creation’s glory beaming,
grant us the grace to keep your word
and live in love redeeming.
All flesh is grass, the flowers fade,
and time is fleeting ever;
God’s word remains forever.
(ACS # 1068)

Credits for the hymns:

“God Is Here Today” text: Javier Gracías, b. 1956; tr. C. Michael Hawn, b. 1948 © 1999 Choristers Guild

“God’s Work, Our Hands” text: Wayne L. Wold, b. 1954 © 2008 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, admin. Augsburg Fortress

Prayer for caregivers © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press

“Earth Is Full of Wit and Wisdom” text: Adam M. L. Tice, b. 1979 © 2009 GIA Publications, Inc.

“To Christ Belong, in Christ Behold” text: Susan R. Briehl, b. 1952 © 2011 Susan R. Briehl, admin. Augsburg Fortress

“God Welcomes All” text: John L. Bell, b. 1949 © 2008 WGRG, Iona Community, admin. GIA Publications, Inc.

“Let My Spirit Always Sing” text: Shirley Erena Murray, 1931–2020 © 1996 Hope Publishing Company

“Behold, Unveiled the Vesper Skies” text: Susan Palo Cherwien, b. 1953 © 2001 Susan Palo Cherwien, admin. Augsburg Fortress

“Though the Earth Shall Change” text: Rolf Vegdahl, b. 1955, and Tom Witt, b. 1957, based on Ps. 46 © 2009 Augsburg Fortress

“The Earth Adorned in Verdant Robe” text: Carl David af Wirsén, 1842–1912; tr. Carolyn Jennings, b. 1936, and Kenneth Jennings, 1925–2015 © 1934, 1974 A. B. Nordiska Musikforlaget, admin. Walton Music Corp., a div. of GIA Publications, Inc.

Other prayers and liturgical texts © 2020 Augsburg Fortress

Duplication in any form prohibited without securing permission from copyright administrator or reporting usage under valid license.

Topics: Hymnody, Music Ministry

David Sims

Written by David Sims

David Sims is the Music Development Manager at Augsburg Fortress, where he directs the development and production of choral, instrumental, and assembly song resources. From 2014 to 2021 he served as Cantor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and worked previously as an organ builder and church musician in Indiana. David grew up in the cornfields of central Illinois and holds degrees in Church Music and Organ Performance from St. Olaf College and Indiana University. His compositions are published by Augsburg Fortress and GIA, and you can usually find him on a search for a new hymn text, recipe, or a source of coffee.

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