All the saints

I woke up slowly Halloween morning thinking about writing this post. And trying to sing a hymn. In my head.

For all the saints who from their labors rest, who Thee by faith before the world confess, Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest, Alleluia! Alleluia!

The words are from the mid-1800s, the music is from the early 1900s. The music is massive, written by Ralph Vaughan Williams for pipe organ and English cathedral and choir. Just the music to be trying to sing in your head while still in bed on Halloween morning.

O blest communion, fellowship divine, we feebly struggle, they in glory shine; yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine. Alleluia! Alleluia!

But it’s the song that most comes to mind for this morning, November 1, All Saints Day. It’s the day in the life of the church set apart to remember that when we talk of the church, the body of Christ, the communion of the saints, the dead in Christ, we are not talking about here and now and in this town and in my building.

I should be more accurate. We may be, but God is not. We read in Hebrews 11 of a whole crowd of people across millennia bearing witness to the work God has strengthen them for and is strengthening us for. The lyricist used battle images, but the work is often a battle against hunger and for health, against violence and for hope and healing.

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast, through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia! Alleluia!

I’m thankful that I am not alone. I’m thankful for all the saints. Even, or maybe especially, you. And I’m thankful that there are songs to awaken my heart when my body is slow to move.

One thought on “All the saints

  1. Hugh McDevitt

    Jon, after graduating from San Jose State University with a Master of Music in Choral Comducting this past May, I am blessed with my first professional music job as choir director at a Presbyterian church in San Jose. We are singing the RVM “For All The Saints” as the introit this Sunday!


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