Worship through Silence and Song
the transcendence and immanence of God, the author is torn between a worship
response of awe-filled silence and one of exuberant song.
WORSHIP THROUGH SILENCE AND SONG?
What are you, my God? What are you, but the Lord God himself? You are the
highest, the most righteous and the most powerful being. You are the most
merciful, and yet the most just. You are the most mysterious, and yet the
most present. You are the most beautiful, and yet the strongest. You are
stable, yet incomprehensible. You are unchanging, yet changing all things.
You are never new and never old, yet you are constantly renewing all things.
You are always working, yet always at rest. You create great riches on earth,
yet you need nothing yourself. You support, nourish and protect all.
You love, and yet you are without passion. You are jealous, and yet have no
fear. You recoil at our sin, yet you do not grieve. You are angry, yet remain
serene. You alter your plans in response to our actions, yet your law and
purpose remain firm. You take as you find, yet never lose. You have no needs,
yet you rejoice in all goodness. You have no envy, yet you require us to
multiply the talents you have bestowed. You pay debts, yet owe nothing; you
forgive debts, yet lose nothing.
What shall I say, O my God, my life, my holy joy? What can any man say when
he speaks of you? Silence offers the greatest eloquence, yet woe to him who
does not sing your praise.
— Saint Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo in Northern Africa. This
selection was taken from BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH: PRAYERS AND REFLECTIONS
THAT CELEBRATE AN INTIMATE GOD, compiled and edited by Ken Gire. New York:
HarperCollins, 1997, p. 134. ISBN 0-06-063046-9
[If you are interested in some further reading from Augustine and others of
the Church Fathers, you might want to take a look at www.ccel.org/fathers2.]
Have a great week.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary