Sacred Music Sunday: Glory to God on High
This weekend is my stake’s Stake Conference. Last night was the adult session, and the music was lovely. I watched it at home over Zoom, not because of fear of covid, but because I didn’t want to get dressed and deal with parking at the stake center. I folded all of my laundry and did the dishes while listening to the talks and hymns. Pajama Church is always remarkably productive for me.
The closing hymn was Glory to God on High, which is one of my favorite hymns. It’s upbeat, bold, and brassy. The first time I encountered this hymn was shortly after I joined the church. I was in a youth choir in preparation for a large regional conference, and this was one of the hymns we were singing. Rehearsal was fun, and singing it for the meeting was a spiritual experience. Singing it in my living room last night with my neighbors over an internet connection brought back memories.
When I was first learning the hymn many years ago, I got stuck on the line “to him ascribed be honor and majesty”. Because of the way the sheet music was written and because we were using old-timey pronunciation to make the words fit the meter, the word “ascribed” was written “a-scrib-ed” and was pronounced “uh-scry-bid”. For whatever reason, probably because of the extra syllable, my brain never made the connection to the familiar word, and I wondered what “uh-scry-bid” meant. It didn’t occur to me to pull out a dictionary to discover that it was a word I already knew.
I think there are two lessons to learn from that. The first one is to look up or investigate things that we don’t know the answer to. If I had just grabbed a dictionary, I would have had my curiosity satisfied. The second lesson is that even if we have questions, we can still have a spiritual experience. I didn’t know what “uh-scry-bid” meant or why it belonged to God, but I still enjoyed the choral experience and had great joy praising God.