I am often struck with the extent to which everything in a public worship service “fits” together, and supports the theme of the sermon. I mean, when there are things that fit together in ways that, for my part, as the pastor who plans and leads worship, were completely unplanned.
For instance, this morning I preached on Mark 14:32-42, about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, pouring out His heart to the Father in prayer, under tremendous temptation, yet submitted to His will, as He prepares to drink the cup of God’s wrath against sinners. I selected as first hymn for the service, “Sweetly the Holy Hymn”, a Hymn written by Rev. C. H. Spurgeon. I selected it because it is generally an excellent hymn for starting a worship service, without rereading it in its entirety. The fifth stanza reads, “On the lone mountain side, Before the morning’s light, The Man of sorrows wept and cried, And rose refreshed with might.” This is a description of the same Gethsemane, the theme of the sermon for this morning! I had not remembered this portion of the hymn at all when I selected it for this morning. God in His providence had me select a hymn that would get the congregation meditating on Jesus’ prayer in the garden, in preparation to hear Him speak on the subject.
This seems to happen a lot. That is, I’ve observed how God frequently overrules and overrides details and elements to make it all fit and hang together. I make two observations: First of all, that the worship service is so important to God, and for His people, that He uses the little details of things to draw them into His presence to bless them. Secondly, God is in control of all these little details and He works them together in ways that we never planned for His glory. Glory be to God!
The full text of the aforementioned hymn is presented below:
Sweetly the holy hymn
Breaks on the morning air;
Before the world with smoke is dim
We meet to offer prayer.
While flowers are wet with dews,
Dew of our souls, descend:
Ere yet the sun the day renews,
O Lord, Thy Spirit send.
Upon the battlefield,
Before the fight begins,
We seek, O Lord, Thy sheltering shield,
To guard us from our sins.
Ere yet our vessel sails
Upon the stream of day
We plead, O Lord, for heavenly gales
To speed us on our way!
On the lone mountain side,
Before the morning’s light,
The Man of sorrows wept and cried,
And rose refreshed with might.
Oh, hear us then, for we
Are very weak and frail,
We make the Savior’s Name our plea,
And surely must prevail.