This anthem rose and fell like the tide in my head for weeks before we sang it, and it still does. The line that got me was “No chilling winds or poisonous breath Can reach that healthful shore;”. There is so much poisonous breath in the air these days. This song kept singing, running in my mind, and I kept seeing pirate ships in my mind’s eye. I heard the waves, I felt the hopelessness of those who could not see the shore. I heard the song rise up like hope amidst the storm. I kept thinking, “this sounds like a drinking song,” but realized it was more akin to a pure version of a sea shanty. It was published in 1787 in a collection of hymns. Most of the other versions of this anthem are more choppy. The one our music director chose was gentler on the spirit, but still called the sea and salt air to my mind.
As we negotiate the next storm on the horizon, picture yourself on the shores of Jordan, getting your land legs back, sitting in freedom and no poisonous breath able to reach you. Breathe in the Holy Spirit and sing praises to the holy name of God.