One thing hymns do so well is remind us of our mortality. A lifetime of singing lyrics that regularly refer to death prepares us for that one moment from which we can’t escape.
Yesterday I knew that our friend Dean’s life was hanging in the balance. After a long bout with congestive heart failure, he had had a heart attack. His daughter wrote me that the next 24 hours would be vital. As I sung yesterday’s hymns my heart prayed for Dean and for his family.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace. (from Amazing Grace)
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die (from There Is a Fountain)
Be near when I am dying,
O show my cross to me;
And for my succor flying,
Come, Lord, to set me free:
These eyes, new faith receiving,
From Jesus shall not move;
For he who dies believing
Dies safely, through thy love. (from O Sacred Head)
We arrived home late, after a long day unplugged from technology and plugged into friendships. I checked my messages to find out that Dean had died a few hours before.
Sitting on my desk is a sticky note reminding me to send a card. It says “Dean – Even down to old age.” Today he is in glory — doesn’t need encouragement.
Even down to old age all my people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love.
(from How Firm a Foundation)