Moment's Reflection April 6, 2022

by Dr. Dan Jones on April 6, 2022
“Ride on, ride on in majesty! As all the crowds hosanna cry.”-Hymn, recalling John 12: 12-13

Like so many good hymns, it’s relegated to a special season in the church year. We don’t sing it often. We sing it on Palm Sunday, when we remember Jesus choosing to return to the city he’d visited numerous times growing up. Festive as we like to sing it, the hymn recalls a bittersweet day. From the time Luke says he “set his face to go to Jerusalem,” this was never going to be an easy visit. In what little we know of Jesus’ childhood, Luke recalls, “every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.” But of course, this time he returns not to recall childhood memories of a beloved city, but to anticipate his imminent crucifixion. Truth is, I love the tune more than the words. We sang the tune to a different set of words during one of those Sunday evening sing-a-longs from my childhood, “Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak,” and not as it’s listed in our hymnal, “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty” (#191). I remember the Sunday we sang it in our worship a few years ago. It nearly took my breath away. I knew I’d heard it before and started digging for an explanation. Different words, same tune. Canonbury. The tune is Canonbury. It evokes all kinds of powerful coming-of-faith memories. So much of my Christian faith is like this. I recall tunes that carried the days of my first understanding. “Tis Midnight, and on Olive’s Brow” (#194). The tune reminds me of the first Maundy Thursday service I attended. Or, “Christ Arose!” ( 224). I always used to love exaggerating the hymn’s sweet, calm first line so that I could equally exaggerate the stirring, near guttural refrain that follows, “Up from the grave He arose.” This Sunday we mark the day Jesus came back to Jerusalem to face the inevitability of his Cross. We’ll do it with great fanfare. Larry Johnson and a Brass Ensemble will play songs fit for a King. You won’t likely know the names of them, but you’ll recognize the melodies. Later in the service, some of our church’s young people will process with palm branches. The choir will sing a Palm Sunday anthem. As much as I’ll enjoy each of them, part of my spirit will keep rehearsing this Sunday’s first hymn, “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty.” The tune, the melody, will take me back to earlier years when Sunday night Song Leader, Don Fox, at First Christian Church in Lindsay, Oklahoma, invited us to sing this song. I was 9, 10, maybe 11 years old. I was just beginning my own journey of faith. We sang, “Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak.” I did hear, and have spent my life speaking. The melody and the journey seem almost synonymous. -Dan, Holy Week 2022

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