The sweet sound of that off-key British voice took me back to some precious times in my life. As this lady sang hymn after hymn in her raspy soprano voice, I couldn’t help but remember all of the years I spent in the church choir as a teenager listening to this same lady belt out the same old songs. As we sang hymn after hymn, the words to seemingly forgotten verses came back automatically as if no time had passed since I’d last sung their words. As a kid, the hymns were old-fashioned and even though I knew all the words, I failed to take the time to actually listen to their meaning. As I’ve gotten a little older, I find such comfort in the words of the hymns, such a different meaning than when I was younger.
So many of the songs we sang tonight weren’t about this world, but about the next. As we sang songs like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Amazing Grace” I couldn’t help but look around the room. These weren’t just words to these nursing home residents, they were the cries of their heart. They long for their heavenly home. They have lived and experienced the joys and pains of this life. I tried to make eye contact with some of the ladies as they were mouthing the words but they weren’t worried about me, they were only singing to their King.
While they are on the back end of life, I am on the front end. I have a three year old and they have raised their families. I have fears as I think about death and leaving this world, while they think about life and long for the peace of heaven that death would bring. While these songs are important to me, they are so much more to these folks; they are words of life. It’s amazing that the same song could have such a different meaning depending on where we are in life. It’s just another example of how personal God is. He inspired those writers long ago and continues to inspire the writers of this current generation. I wonder just how many people these words will touch.
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34