Friday, November 28, 2008

We Gather Together

Yesterday, my family and extended family and a few friends gathered together for an afternoon of delicious food, interesting conversation, and beautiful music. This is something we've been doing for decades now, ever since my sisters and I were in college when it was a gathering of families of our friends. Some of those friends have since become in-laws, and so the tradition has continued over these many years.

This time was special because we were celebrating two major "decade" birthdays: the 90th birthday of the oldest of the group and the 80th of my mother. To honor them, we had a mini-concert of string, piano, harp, and vocal music. We closed it out by singing We Gather Together.

We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing.
He chastens and hastens to make His will known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing
Sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining;
Ordaining, maintaining His Kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were on our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader Triumphant,
and pray that Thou still our Defender wilt be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy name be ever praised! O Lord make us free!

I've sung that hymn many, many times throughout my life, but I never took the time to find out what it was all about until this morning when I looked it up. I was surprised to discovered that it was not an American hymn, but rather a Dutch hymn written about when they were fighting for independence from the Spanish in the 16th century. At the time, they were forbidden by the Catholic king to worship as they chose, so the words "gather together" were particularly meaningful for them.

The hymn appeared in American hymnals in 1903. It was the first hymn in the first hymnal of the Dutch Reformed Church in North Amerca, but it wasn't until it was chosen for inclusion in the national hymnal of the Methodist-Episcopal Church in 1935 that it became better known. During World War II, the words "the wicked oppressing" were connected with the Nazis and Japanese.

For Christians, we are always under siege from some evil force. Perhaps now, more than ever. I am thankful for the Leader Triumphant who is our Defender still.


Patty said...

Your mother certainly doesn't look 80 ! looks like you had a wonderful time of feasting and fellowship.

Patty said...

Rondi, whose house is that, its gorgeous, decorated just perfectly

Rondi said...

This is my sister's sister-in-law's home. It is a beautiful home, for sure. This is just the second year they've been in this house and they've spent a lot of time getting it put together.

You're right, my mom doesn't look anywhere near 80! And we did have a lovely time....

La Tea Dah said...

Beautiful post! Happy Birthday to your mother! And Happy (belated) Thanksgiving.

:) LaTeaDah

inlandempiregirl said...

It sounds like a great time. I hope you had a relaxing vacation.