1 Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness
and come before his presence with a song.
2 Know this: The Lord himself is God; *
he himself has made us, and we are his;
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.
3 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise; *
give thanks to him and call upon his Name.
4 For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting; *
and his faithfulness endures from age to age.
This morning’s psalm is a familiar one to those who pray the Daily Office liturgy, Morning Prayer. It is one of the ‘options’ presented in the Book of Common Prayer to pray at the start of the service.
I learned the psalm as a young person praying it out loud and in worship, memorizing as I heard it being prayed by the gathered body. I sometimes would hold the Book of Common Prayer in front of me – like the big folks – but I wasn’t reading, then – just imitating the words and actions of the congregation in ways that made me feel so much a part. This psalm and all the prayers of the BCP liturgies I learned by heart and in my heart.
When I arrived at seminary and began attending Morning Prayer occasionally before a first class, I was pleased to be able to recite the entire service, including this psalm, without having to read from the BCP.
Imagine my surprise – delight in a joke’s on you sort of way – when I began studying the BCP, liturgy and its origins and found that I had memorized this beloved petition – well, mistakenly is the best way to put it. I had misheard from day one as a child one little word. It was a word that had always brought a smile to my heart – an unusual one I had thought – for a psalm. But it made sense at the same time – it was poetic and light and ‘worked’ with the praise and joy the psalmist invites us into.
Be joyful in the Lord, all you
…wait for it…
As in happy lil’ tykes like Snoopy and Charlie Brown, here – happy, happy Lads to be praising God together.
No, instead it reads, Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands – as in the whole world – all the nations, all the Gentiles.
But how sweet of me, I think, to have thought as I learned the psalm as a child, that the psalmist was directing this joy to us little ‘lads’ there in the pews alongside the big folks.
To this day I cannot stop myself from smiling when praying this psalm either at Morning Prayer or when appointed for the day’s readings.
I’m grateful to have been raised in a church tradition that invited me into to praise God in worship – to participate with the entire congregation – lads and all. To have stood beside the adults praying collects that were written centuries before, reciting creeds that had been crafted by 4th century theologians, boldly saying the Lord’s Prayer as Jesus had taught with the entire congregation, singing with angels and archangels the Sanctus, standing and kneeling before the Lord with old and young, alike.
I’m grateful to have been raised in a tradition that embodies worship – that calls upon the entire body of Christ to participate – all the lands and the lads, alike.
Praise God from whom all blessings and heart smiles, flow.