Friday, January 4, 2008

Rejoicing In Christ Through Sacred Music and Scriptures

January 3, 2008

As is the case with most of us, once in a while I have a spontaneous and unexpected spiritual experience that truly touches my soul. These experiences cannot be planned or forced and that is what makes them so special.

Last summer I had such an experience. My son-in-law Nathan Brown, and his friend John Lu, have been singing together in choirs and barbershop quartets beginning in their high school years in Irvine. As young returned missionaries they both married and live with their wives and children -- each has a baby daughter -- in the same apartment complex in our ward boundaries. They both have been blessed with beautiful tenor voices and sing from the heart and with the Spirit. Last summer they were asked to sing a duet in our Ward sacrament meeting.

Jo Anne and I had gone to Nathan and our daughter Jackie's apartment to visit late one afternoon. We had only been there a short time when John Lu appeared at the door and shortly after, Nathan's mother, Roylee. Nathan's mom is an accomplished organist and pianist and was there to practice the song with Nathan and John that they would be singing in sacrament meeting the following Sunday.

I was seated right by the piano because it is a small living room, and my chair takes up so much space there was no other convenient place to park me. Nathan and John were also right at my side as they begin singing. They sang a song I had never heard before entitled "Because He Lives," written by Bill and Gloria Gaither. As they commenced singing I immediately felt the Spirit, much more than just a warm fuzzy feeling, and tears came to my eyes. What brought the Spirit so intensely to me I believe was not only the beauty of the two tenor voices and the musical arrangement, and my sitting so close to them, but also the lyrics. They finished and then felt they needed to go through it again for which I was secretly very grateful. The second time around was even better than the first as I was able to concentrate on the message so beautifully delivered by these two gifted young men and accompanied by Nathan's mom.

I'm going to share with you some of the lyrics. I believe Bill and Gloria Gaither were truly inspired as they wrote these words. I consider it a beautiful modern-day Psalm. You might be tempted to speed read through the lyrics but don't. If you will carefully read them, and I haven't included them all, I am sure you will find an inspiring message you can apply to your own lives as I have done to mine, regarding what Christ has done for us all.

"Because he lives; because he rose in mighty triumph from the grave
I put my trust in him, and seek to follow him in faith
Because he lives

Because he lives, I shall find strength to stand against the tempter's power
He is my refuge and defense in every troubled hour
Because he lives

Because he lives I can bear whatever burden may be mine
I am encircled in the arms of love divine because he lives
Because he lives he will banish every shadow of my pain
Every sorrow will be swallowed up in him
For in his hand is healing for the weary soul
This I know because he lives

Because he lives my heart is filled with peace amid a world of fear
And through the blindness of the night, in him I rest secure
Because he lives

Because he lives there is no task so great that I cannot endure
I bear no heartache that his tender mercy cannot cure
Because he lives

(Repeat chorus)

Because he lives I will fear no darkness
Because he lives I will walk in light
Because he lives I will praise his kindness
Because he lives hope shines ever bright
Because he lives I will seek his righteousness
Because he lives I'll follow where he leads
Because he lives I shall conquer even death
And I shall live because he lives!"

Well, these words and music certainly struck a chord within me that continues to resonate each time I read this modern-day Psalm. I only wish you could hear Nathan Brown and John Lu sing it with their beautiful tenor voices. I think some of the most beautiful words and music ever written through the years have been written about Christ. This is certainly as it should be isn't it?

After a number of days of clouds, fog, and a thick marine layer which blocked out the sun and kept it from shining on normally sunny Southern California, I woke up one morning and realized the clouds had dispersed and the sun was brightly shining through my bedroom windows. I immediately felt better than I had for days and couldn't help but recall some of the last words of David, the consummate writer of Psalms, in describing Jehovah/Christ. "And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds..." [2 Samuel 23:4]

As human beings it is difficult to adequately describe the majesty and power of Christ using our limited vocabulary. Bill and Gloria Gaither tried hard and did well. David's description of the resurrected and glorified Christ as "... the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds..." strikes close to the heart of the matter. We are given to understand that He is "The alight which is in all things, which giveth blife to all things, which is the claw by which all things are governed...who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things." [D&C 88:13]

And so, even though it is difficult to accurately describe Christ and understand the extent of his power and majesty, hopefully we will continue to write and sing of Him because it is our mission to the world "... [to] atalk of Christ, [to] rejoice in Christ, [and to] preach of Christ..." [2 Nephi 25: 26]


1 comment:

Shelley said...

Bro. Rushton, I have become aware of you through my mission president Jim
Ritchie. I want to thank you for your "Observations" you have lifted me and inspired me, and have helped me appreciate even more my relationship with my Savior. Thank you!