How Can I Keep From Singing?
“I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.” Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26
“My life flows on in endless song,” affirms an old hymn, “above earth’s lamentation. . . .
I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul—how can I keep from singing?”
“The Christian faith was born singing,” Joseph Gelineau wrote, “and it has never ceased to sing.” That is never more true than in Advent. When pregnant old Elizabeth greeted her pregnant young cousin Mary, she threw back her head and sang, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” When the angel announced to the shepherds the birth of that child, a heavenly chorus joined in on “Glory to God!” Our carols, from “Joy to the World” to “Good Christian Folk, Rejoice!” echo those songs of joy.
But as Psalm 89 reminds us, we are called to sing of God’s steadfast love forever—in good times and hard. So with our joy, we also sing our longing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and our wondering “What Child is This?”
Like the Psalmist, we sing our faith in the One whose love is steadfast, in every season, every time, every joy, every sorrow. The One born “in the bleak midwinter long ago.” Born into the “hopes and fears of all the years.” “Born today”—and every day.
How indeed can we keep from singing?
In this season and every season, O God, help us to sing your steadfast love forever. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Worship for Vital Congregations, published by The Pilgrim Press.