For whatever reason, of late I have started being asked to introduce special music , and such was the case today. Last Sabbath, when we were practicing the song in question, I gave a personal discussion about it  and it was thought to be a bit long and that I would have to shorten my introduction a good bit. As is generally the case, I have a hard time thinking inside of my head and usually need to get something out in spoken or written form for me to think and reflect on it. This sort of public and extrovert thinking has not always served me well, but I hope that it may at least be understood and appreciated as is the case here where I will write out my long thoughts about the song and then take from among those thoughts a shorter and more elliptical and less personal introduction for the special music/hymn that we will be singing at church after I write this but before you read this:
“I would like to apologize to you all in advance for what will be a somewhat long and personal introduction. Not too long ago, as we were nearing the end of the performance season for the a capella choir, [name redacted] had the idea to perform less familiar songs from the hymnal or from our past. You may notice that along with your announcement bulletins today there is the sheet music for a hymn “O Thou God Of My Salvation,” a hymn with music by Dwight Armstrong that was in the purple 1973 Worldwide Church of God hymnal as well as the burgundy 1993 hymnal. The words of the song are taken from Psalm 88, and were written by Heman the Ezrahite, the grandson of the prophet Samuel and one of the chief Levite musicians of the sons of Korah.
This particular song has a deep personal significance and so that is why I chose for us to sing it today. At about the age of 10 or so, I marked the location of this psalm in the Table of contents of my first Bible, and it was the only chapter I specifically marked. Among the psalms as a whole it is set apart by being the gloomiest of all the psalms, the only one in which there is no positive resolution of problems that have gone on and on and on and on. This is the only psalm in which there is no praise that God has heard Heman’s prayer and responded to it, only the promise that Heman would continue to stretch out his hands before God despite the lack of a response. This psalm is therefore notable for its value in expressing it’s author’s deep melancholy and for the persistence of the author’s desire for communication and resolution despite God’s continued silence. For these reasons the song related to me as a child and relates to me still even now. Some of you may be able to relate to this psalm as well.
I will now explain to you how we will undertake this introduction of a new hymn, and hopefully less introduction will need to be made in the future. Four of us, [names redacted] will sing the first verse of the hymn in four-part harmony with accompaniment by [name redacted] on the piano. After we finish singing the first verse, I will go behind the lectern, ask you to stand and take up the hymn to sing, and the pianist will begin with the introduction to the first verse and we will sing all three verses of this hymn together as a congregation. Without any further ado, let us begin in singing “O Thou God Of My Salvation” for and with you all this Sabbath day.”
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