On Sunday, January 26, we sang a really interesting hymn at our church. It was called “From the Nets of Our Labor.” I hadn’t ever sung it before and melodically, I don’t think it has much to offer. The text is striking, however, and that is what I want to tell you about.
The lesson had to do with Jesus calling his disciples, as Matthew records the story, and it leads to a refrain that goes like this:
“We will rise up and follow,
Christ before and beside us,
loving pattern to guide us,
as we answer the call.”
The several verses describe situations in which a modern Christian might “rise up and follow.” For instance, we might follow “when we faint and grow weary, or when, in the eyes of a stranger, Jesus summons us all. All very biblical and straightforward. Then there was the fourth stanza.
When we hear words of hatred
spreading fear of false witness
words that cry to be challenged
Jesus summons us all.
The choir I sing in is pretty good musically and we were more that up to the melodic demands of this hymn. We are, however, a politically diverse group and we sang this hymn in the middle of the President’s trial for high crimes and misdemeanors, so when we sang that verse, I sensed a fixed attention to the congregation and a real care not to catch each other’s eyes. I think it was lines like “spreading words of false witness” and “words that cry to be challenged.”
Too long a look or any movement of the eyebrows could, in that circumstance, be considered a political comment and while there are veiled political comments in the sermons all the time, we try to keep them out of the hymns we all sing together.
We failed to do that today.