This Sunday, we will sing a hymn based on the first reading (Acts 17:22-31). This passage paints a picture larger than we can fathom --
“The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth,
does not live in shrines made by human hands... From one ancestor he made all nations
to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries
of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps
grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For
‘In him we live and move and have our being’...”
The hymn “Creating God, your fingers trace” zooms out of our point of view and surveys “the bold designs of farthest space.” We come back to our planet in the second verse: “Sustaining God, your hands uphold the earth’s mysteries known or yet untold; let water’s fragile blend with air, enabling life, proclaim your care.”
That second verse connects the rest of this Sunday’s music with Rogation Sunday. We will begin with the hymn tune Noel nouvelet (“Now the green blade riseth"). Although this will be instrumental, the familiar text brings us back to the earth --
“Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days hath lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:"
The melody of the refrain ascends under the text "Love is come again" and is supported by the brightest chord in the tune. The melody drifts back down to the soil with "like wheat that springeth green."
For our postlude, I want to keep attention on the blessings of the earth. I will play an arrangement of Royal Oak, which is familiar to most of us as “All things bright and beautiful.” I invite you to think of these two verses when you are able to experience the outdoors this week.
“Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors,
He made their tiny wings.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
He made them every one.”