Singing the Blues” or “Songs of Hope”?

Both!!    I’ve always maintained that “the Blues” , as  musical genre,  is a “Lament”.   Out of the depths…
grievances, broken-heartedness, pain, oppression… are born into song.  Sometimes we just need to cry out in grief and anger.   (Psalm 62, Psalm 130, Psalm 137.) 

 I believe also that Hope and profound Praise can be born in the depths.  Often, in a crisis – whether at the family, community or national level – we are galvanized and

drawn closer together.  In the aftermath of 9/11, people didn’t want to be alone, or apart from loved ones.  Parents hugged their children a little tighter than before. 

People wanted to be together.  The bond of love and friendship was magnified and multiplied.

What makes the coronavirus pandemic such a different situation is that we’re being asked to push away from one another.  “Social Distancing”.   It is necessary. 

The right thing to do. But it also puts stress on the very social connections that make us human. Community!  Groups.  Gatherings.  Our “Tribe”. 
The result is that “alone-ness” can lead to loneliness.   Solitary safeguards can lead to isolation, and fear.
But in that emptiness, something is stirring.  Something is being born.

One individual who comes to mind, as a voice of hope born in crisis, is Martin Rinkart (1568 -1649).
Rinkart was a gifted musician who served at several prominent churches in southern Germany. He became a pastor, and served in Eilenburg for 30 years before he died.

These years were during the dreadful “Thirty Years” War.   In 1637 alone, 8,000 people died because of disease inside the walled city of Eilenburg. Deaths that year included

several clergy, most of the town council, and Rinkart’s own wife.  Rinkart was left to minister to the entire city; burial services were sometimes mass funerals for as many as

200 dead in one week.  Known as a faithful and caring Pastor, he gave much of what he had to others, keeping only the bare essentials for care for his own family.  In the depths

of this communal suffering he wrote a hymn text that many of us know and sing:   “Now Thank we all our God”.
“Now thank we all our God/With hearts and hands and voices./Who wondrous things hath done/In whom this world rejoices.”   And in another verse he sings of a bounteous

God who is near to us in our loneliness and anxiety. A God who will: “Keep us all in grace/and guide us when perplexed/And frees us from all harm/ in this world and the next.”

It’s a hymn worth singing!   A hymn worth coming back to!   Pull out your hymnals!!  #839 in ELW
COVID 19 fears.   Economic worries.  Staying safe at home.  The loss of loved ones.  Hospitalized family members. The tragic death of our dear Jill.  

Regarding memorials for Jill, here are Mark’s wishes:
          We would like to let people know that in lieu of flowers we ask that those so moved to consider
         a donation to Novus Way. Jill loved Outdoor Ministry and was concerned what will happen to the
         camps since it is not safe for them to open this summer. Nothing would make her happier than
         helping ensure these camps survive these difficult times. Donations can be made online at or mailed to Novus Way, PO Box 830 Arden, NC 28704 (put “Jill” in memo line). 
Gifts can also be made through Grace, checks payable to Novus Way will be forwarded from the office.

When we are held captive “in the depths”, remember the words of Zechariah from last Sunday:
We are “Prisoners of Hope”.  May Hope ultimately break out into song:  songs of Lament; songs that “blue”; songs of protest and praise;  

Songs of Thankfulness.  “Now Thank We All our God.”

Singing with you….  Pastor John