That’s what the readings ushered in this morning…music to my ears that brought….well, tears. Praise Music on the most authentic, grandest scale. Nothing contrived when God’s Word is put to music and used liturgically, in worship, as a corporate prayer, a response to God’s call.
The reading from Isaiah is pregnant with the combination of God’s Word and (praise)music that can do nothing less than birth praise and glory. In the opening verses you’ll encounter the Sanctus,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
The Sanctus*, an opening hymn sung by the angels in Isaiah’s story, appeared in the very first known liturgy of God’s church and has been a presence ever since and always in the Eucharistic Prayers of The Episcopal Church.
But it was further in the passage where I was paused – first by an image that came to my eyes, then to a hymn. There I saw Isaiah, reaching his hands up – in praise-like fashion – but rather innocently, like like a kindergartner eagerly volunteering to go to the office for the Teacher, Send me, send me…I’ll go!
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph* touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’ 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’ 9And he said, ‘Go and say to this people:
“Keep listening, but do not comprehend;
keep looking, but do not understand.”
Send me. Now the image of the eager volunteer fades as the music and words of a hymn percolate bringing my mind to the calmer, more prayerful side of the interpretation of the prophet’s response suggested in the passage. A hymn that never fails to move me to tears – whether sitting at my kitchen table alone with God’s word or in a worship service anticipating the partaking of the bread and wine.
“Here I Am Lord” by Don Schutte is sung often in Eucharistic liturgies during Advent and Lent, and frequently at Ordinations.
For today, I am paused here at Isaiah, without going further in the Daily Office Lectionary readings to rest in the music the Holy Spirit brought to my ears, that ushered in my tears. I am going to rest here with Isaiah’s prophetic words, here I am, and with the musical interpretation of the same from Dan Schutte ((I am also uploading a National Cathedral – in Washington D.C. – Choral version of Here I Am).
Perhaps you’ll have time to rest, here, too.
*Here is a contemporary setting of the Sanctus I found on YouTube: