Worship This Way
As the first thin, reedlike tones of “Come, Come Ye Saints” floated over the heads of the congregation, I found myself admiring the young woman’s courage. At her age, I wouldn’t have dared to sing a hymn—particularly a complex one—in front of 500 people. She soldiered on, struggling in her nervousness to reach the higher notes. The encouraging words she sang might well have been directed to her own difficult task:
Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear …
It was good, I reminded myself, that we should hear such a message on a Sabbath morning, even if the singer and the vocal quality were not superlative.
But then came one of those moments of heartfelt worship that made my eyes glisten with tears. Softly—so softly at first that I thought I was only hearing gorgeous acoustical overtones in the spacious room—a chorus of hummed and murmured harmony from hundreds of worshippers swept up the singer and wrapped her in warmth and strength. She brightened visibly and leaned into her song:
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take;
Our God will never us forsake …
This was the church—God’s beautiful, compassionate people—at worship, lifting up the one who felt her weakness, improving the song with all the rich varieties of gifts and harmonies the Spirit has given, joining in, instead of merely listening.
My voice broke with grateful emotion as I joined God’s people in supporting the singer:
O how we’ll make this chorus swell,
All is well! All is well!
And it was. And it is. And it ever shall be whenever God’s people worship this way.
— Bill Knott