Sometimes we sing the words without thinking. The lyrics scroll past as our minds wander vacantly along their usual pathways of mundane concerns. It’s not even that we are in the grip of some dark night of the soul and seriously doubt that “We will feast in the house of Zion / We will sing with hearts restored” – more that we don’t even rise to the level of engagement active doubt would require. We are distracted and bored and stifle a yawn. But there are other times too, times like the current moment, when “In the dark of night, before the dawn / My soul be not afraid” resonates with our own fears and aspirations. Times when singing of our hope of a promised reunion, the marriage supper of the Lamb, gives a glimpse of what a restored heart might actually feel like.
It’s a strange Holy Week, and while Sandra McCracken’s albums have been in heavy rotation in the Cairns household over the past few years, I’ve been enjoying “We Will Feast” from Psalms especially this week. Many of the songs on the album are straightforward adaptations of specific psalms or scripture passages, but “We Will Feast” is a more wide-ranging mix of biblical imagery from the Psalms, Isaiah, Revelation – all centered on the idea of the promised feast in the place where God dwells, a celebration where the old order of suffering and tears has been overcome. We are all feeling the pain of separation right now, of our limits in the face of pain and death, and I find myself holding on to the hope of being “upheld, protected, gathered up” more than I usually do. I am typically more complacent, more confident in my own independence and self-sufficiency. But, complacent self-sufficiency isn’t an option right now, and so I sing along, not with bored disengagement, or smug independence, but in genuine hope of the promised feast that is to come.