Le Jour Des Morts, William Bougueareau, 1859
For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
And the Lord make you to increase and abound
in love toward another,
and toward all men,
even as we do toward you:
to the end he may establish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before God,
even our Father,
at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
with all his saints.
I Thessalonians 3:12-13
I love to sing Great is Thy Faithfulness because it was my mom’s favorite hymn and her memory is wrapped in between every syllable when I sing or play it. I love the rousing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God because it is solid truth; but it also brings to mind Martin Luther.
It is thrilling to walk where (fill in the blank) walked. I think history grabbed my young heart when I realized that these people really lived! All are one in Thee, for all are Thine. We. Are. Connected. There are so many saints who went before us; the page about their lives is blank. But we know The Book they read. And we know some of what they sang.
These fragments of their lives are precious remnants. Sometimes I work on memorizing a hymn or psalm while I wash dishes by hand. I think of the women who did the same tasks five hundred years ago, and perhaps sung the same songs. And I wonder…was Tallis as difficult to sing when Tallis himself was teaching them? Did they have to struggle with the melody before the beauty broke through? Did Goudimel hear the textures I hear when we sing his harmonization of the psalms?
We are tempted to squander our heritage. We search with diligence for the Next New Thing, dismiss the past, and discard it with nary a thought.
I’m getting a second chance tomorrow to recapture some of my own heritage. My husband, son and I are having lunch with my uncle and aunt (my mom’s brother and his wife). I’ve already told them I want to know more about my Dutch Grandma. She was born in Holland and emigrated to America. She was always more interested in being helpful than being the center of attention. Her daughter-in-law responded with warmth and enthusiasm. “I can’t wait to tell you all about my wonderful mother-in-law and all that she taught me.”
Happy All Saints Day.