Our opening hymn this weekend is “Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty,” an oldie but a goodie you likely know pretty well. The hymn was written by Benjamin Smolck, he born 1672 in what is now Poland, becoming a Lutheran pastor. More influential than Smolck was the woman that translated the hymn into English, Catherine Winkworth. She was born in London in 1827, and given a book of German hymns by a Prussian ambassador, which began her appreciation of what were even in her time old German hymns. We have 46 of her translations in our hymnal – she has left us a great legacy of music we otherwise would not have had, at least in English.
Our Old Testament reading this day is from Psalm 18, a psalm of David. When the psalms were collected into the Hebrew bible, the following superscription was included, here translated into English:
“To the choirmaster, a Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed he words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.”
The historical background for David’s psalm of thanksgiving can be found in 2Samuel 22. As you read David’s description of his troubles in those days, you read also a prophecy of the difficulties Jesus would encounter 10 centuries later. The Bible in your hands is an amazing document, interconnected, linking ancient times with our present. After all, in your day of troubles, don’t you turn also to the Lord who is your rock and your fortress and your deliverer?