Night Worship

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Psalm 134

Praise in the Night

A Song of Ascents

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,

who stand by night in the house of the Lord!

Lift up your hands to the holy place,

and bless the Lord.

May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth,

bless you from Zion.

There are three main thoughts as to how the “Songs of Ascent” were used.

The first is that they were sung by the Jewish people as they made their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Other scholars think it may go back to the rededication of the Temple in the time of Nehemiah. Other scholars think it may have been a praise song used by the priests taking their night watches in the Temple.

I think it is awesome to have a worship song designated specifically for those who take the night shift. It is not just a song to be sung by the night shift in the Temple, it is a prayer lifted up on their behalf.

I won’t try to drag more out of these simple verses than are really there. But perhaps we should pause and consider the number of people who work those twilight hours while many of us are home, asleep in our beds. Does God work in their lives, even if they live in places that do not have access to worship services they can readily attend? I remember serving with a retired pastor, Rev. Harry Prince, who once told me that his favorite church to serve was a night church in Philadelphia, PA the had been created specifically for the nurses, police, EMS workers, and the many others who could not attend a Sunday morning worship. They had a life unto themselves and he considered it a blessing to be in God’s presence with them. This is a song for Rev. Prince and his night church.

Are you a night person as well?

How do you worship God at night?

First Frost

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Supple droplets coalesce

in morning mist, whose cool caress

embraces all in loneliness,

sinking into shallow ground.

Follows then a breath of air,

whose northern accent chills the fair

unfinished droplets, held with care

there upon my glass found.

Shining into crystal likeness,

bright and white and round –

they harden without sound.

Beaded strings of peasant pearls

twined about in crescent curls,

crawling up my window, whorls

unbroken in a line.

There beset with misting sweat

they bind together, tight and yet

their seamless sheen and coverlet

grows gently as a vine.

Silently, with silver strength,

they reflect the moonshine –

until the night’s resign.

Morning brings a glassy sight

a world engulfed in frost-fire light

and painted crystalline and white

in heavenly decor.

The dusted streets stand glistening

while festive boughs are listening

to birdsong southbound christening

the mountain to the shore.

The fragrance of festivity

wafts in and out my door –

til spring returns once more.

to Nocturne in Black and Gold (Whistler)

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Never so brightly had she shone

above the Weimar, cold with eyes

left peering, fearing dark advancing

down from heav’n to earth tonight.

 

Alas, my lady would not budge

nor cease nor brake nor even veer

her flight to greener grass and softer

sands to toil, soil to turn.

 

So sad to see her go, I was

alone and left beside myself

to numbly stare above and wonder

what more could be done.

 

…What more could be done?

 

So in secret I made haste

I drew my kite-string ’round her waist

and tied it tight within a knot

with skill so sleek… she knew it not.

Thus I planned to hold her back

from freedom and dangerous attack!

 

Off she took without a care

headstrong and headed straight towards

the sky, and starlets in her hair

were gleaming as the night approached.

 

They met mid-way with such a clash

(the kite string drawn, pulled tight, and snapped)

she vanished then within a flash –

and ash came floating down.

 

I weakly watched without a sound

as starlets trickled to the ground

and wondered if she still would live

had I not held her back.

 

…had I not held her back