3 May 2023 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:16-17; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
My mother was no famous singer, in fact, few heard her sing but those in the family of the 1940’s and 50’s. But mother sang beautiful hymns throughout the day as she went about her daily gardening and house-keeping chores. When I was a very young toddler, I had no idea of the depth of meaning of those hymns, but the words were planted in my heart to bear fruit at a time of the Lord’s discretion.
My mother did not sing only hymns – she sang other old Irish tunes such as the Mountains of Mourne, In Dublin’s Fair City, Barbara Allen, and an especially memorable version of an Irish Lullaby. I can remember her singing the latter song as she rocked me in her breast:
Over in Killarney, many years ago
My Mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low,
Just a simple little ditty, in her good old Irish way,
And I’d give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, etc., etc.
But it was the hymns that had such a powerful and continuing impact on my heart. Among those that I heard almost daily as a child were Jesus Keep my Near the Cross, Abide with Me, In the Garden, The Church’s One Foundation, Rock of Ages, I am Thine O Lord, and many more. Of those mentioned here, In the Garden was her favorite and she actually sang it often when in her garden tending her roses and other flowers.
In times of homesickness in foreign ports of Asia and the Middle East, these hymns became a comforting balm to my soul. In remembering those simple and precious stanza’s, I made aware of a constant and unchanging Lord who never leaves nor forsakes us regardless of distant and time. It also reminded me that I will always have my mother’s love to comfort and sustain me in times of sorrow and hurt. I know this because love is one resource that survives death:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
My mother died in Christ and her love there is kept in safe deposit forever.
Because of my mother’s love, I seldom need a hymnal to sing many of those dear old hymns. The words themselves are powerful:
I come to the Garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
He speaks, and the sound of His voice is so sweet
That the birds hush, hush their singing
And the melody that He …
These words were a great comfort to my mother always, especially when my father was off fighting in the European Theater of World War II; their meaning was wonderful to Mary Magdalene outside the open Tomb in the Garden; and they remain wonderful words of comfort to me.
I hope you will be comforted by the words and meaning of the great classical hymns of the Church. And I pray that God will continue to use mothers to nurture up their children in the love of God.