"Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing, My great Redeemer's praise, The glories of my God and King, The triumphs of His grace!
"My gracious Master and my God, Assist me to proclaim, To spread through all the earth abroad, The honors of Thy Name."
During the pandemic, masks have been required attire, even in worship. Sometimes we must sing through a mask, and in some areas, singing is discouraged, or even forbidden for fear of spreading the virus. Our hymn expresses our longing "for a thousand tongues to sing," but we might be satisfied with just one unmuffled voice to sing our great Redeemer's praise!
With one tongue or a thousand, what glories and triumphs of our God and King would we choose to proclaim? We could sing of the personal triumphs of God's compassionate care in our lives. We might sing of the gift of family or work, or offer thanks and praise for healing or for loved ones who have been called home to live in His presence. We might sing of the new year so recently begun, of our hopes and fears and our trust in our gracious King for whatever the future holds. But above all, we will and must sing the glories and triumphs of our Savior Jesus Christ. For our songs do more than offer praise; songs tell the story of our salvation.
Some songs and hymns recount the full story of our sin and rebellion against God, the promise of the Savior, Jesus' redeeming work and the new life and forgiveness that we have through faith in His Name. In this way, a single hymn will proclaim "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27b). At other times, our songs focus on certain aspects of God's promises and their fulfillment in Jesus. Hymns for the various seasons of the church year—Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter—proclaim and celebrate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. During Pentecost we sing of the gift of the Holy Spirit and His ongoing work in our lives.
One day, our voices, unmasked and unmuffled, will join in the chorus of praise as we, by God's grace through faith in Christ Jesus, stand before His throne. In His shining presence there will be far more than "a thousand tongues to sing" the glories and triumphs of God. We will add our voices to "the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands" (Revelation 5:11b) and the voices of "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9b). Together we will sing the praise of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain to save us, whose blood washes us clean from sin. Until that day, we pray that God will help us by His Spirit to proclaim His grace and glory in song and speech and written word, to reflect His love in our lives and to "spread through all the earth abroad" the honors of His Name!
THE PRAYER: Almighty God and Savior, accept my grateful praise, both masked and unmasked! Amen.
The Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," which is found on page 528 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Have you returned to your church since pandemic restrictions began? How has that been?
2. How effective is music in drawing people together?
3. What do you think music will be like in heaven? Do you think there will be instruments playing?
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