I have been treating myself to some reversion therapy of late. Not reverting to my pre-Christian days, but to my early Christian life when we sang songs with tunes that I could follow. I enjoy music, but have an inability to follow any but the most straightforward of tunes. In recent years I have often been left out in the cold as competent musicians have sung songs that they appear to have practiced and mastered, but which (to my untuned ear) have mysterious patterns that I am simply unable to grasp.
One of the benefits of lockdown has been that I have been forced to look on youtube, and various other places, in order to prepare services for transmission on zoom. There is a constant temptation to click onto anything that appears vaguely interesting and, from time to time I have succumbed. What I have discovered is that there seem to be a large number of folk out there who still sing the golden oldies that I too sang as a young Christian. Consequently, I have spent a good few hours indulging myself in listening to, and occasionally joining in with, songs that appear to have been deleted from the repertoire of many churches.
Recently, I was reading in the book of Hebrews and contemplating the nature of priesthood, when a line from an old Pentecostal song came to mind ‘He maketh the rebel a priest and a king’. It is many years since I have sung it, so I looked it up and here is the full song.
With harps and with viols, there stand a great throng
In the presence of Jesus, and sing this new song:
Unto Him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto Him be the glory forever, Amen.
All these once were sinners, defiled in his sight,
Now arrayed in pure garments in praise they unite.
He maketh the rebel a priest and a king,
He hath bought us and taught us this new song to sing.
How helpless and hopeless we sinners had been,
If he never had loved us till cleansed from our sin.
Aloud in his praises our voices shall ring,
So that others believing, this new song shall sing.
It is not exactly top drawer quality, but it is enthusiastic, and it contains a number of very simple truths. I accept the fact that most of us are probably unfamiliar with a ‘viol’, but a quick flick to the internet reveals that it was a very popular instrument between two and five hundred years ago, not least because it was comparatively easy to play in tune, and so was often used to provide music in a domestic setting. It appealed to me immediately. I have often wondered how I am going to get on with all the music in heaven, but the ‘viol’ sounds as if it might just be up my street.
However, the contemplation of the nature of heavenly music was not the focus of my delight in rediscovering this old song. The thing that gave me real joy was the reminder that God makes the rebel, a priest and a king. All the great throng of humanity standing and singing in the presence of Jesus throughout eternity, will not only be redeemed rebels, but now appointed and anointed as kings and priests to God.
Discovering some of these old songs again, and welcoming them back into my life has been a definite benefit of lockdown. However, even if lockdown eventually becomes a distant memory, I think I will continue to treat myself to some ongoing reversion therapy and indulge in blessing myself with some simple truths set to some old easy tunes.