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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Singing in the Shower: Psalm 74 and “Soon”

It seems that all I do is wait. I wait as a Christian for the spiritual maturity that I long for. I wait as a Christian for my entrance into Paradise. But I also waited as a father for good husbands for my 2 daughters. Then I waited through miscarriages for grandchildren. Now I wait for more grandchildren and to see spiritual maturity in my children and grandchildren. Waiting is the story of my life. But, of course, I am not alone. We all know what it is to wait.

In today’s program I want to talk about the concept of waiting as it relates to the Biblical Songbook and the American Songbook.

In the Biblical Songbook we have the teaching that God’s timing is not our timing and that we are to adjust our thinking accordingly. In that great Psalm 37 of waiting by David, we read, quote “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” end of quote

We see this teaching reinforced in the New Testament by Paul and Peter. Paul applies this theology of patience to us in the “Song of Love” in 1 Corinthians 13 (4-8), where we have the rhythmic “love is” structure in poetic treatment, where the first attribute of love is “waiting.” That is, as God waits for us we are to wait for Him and others. In 2 Peter 3 (8-9) we read, quote “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” end of quote. Our waiting will end soon but only in God’s due time. It all depends on who is defining “soon.”

From the 1912 Presbyterian Psalter we have the hymn “From out the Depths I cry, O Lord, to thee” from Psalm 130 with the words, quote “I wait for God the Lord, and on his Word my hope relies, my soul still waits, and looks unto the Lord till light arise.” end of quote Believers are called “waiting saints” in this hymn.

But there are other kinds of waiting too. And the American Songbook has plenty of “waiting” songs — especially about love and romance. In 1930 George and Ira Gershwin wrote a musical called Strike Up the Band with the mellifluous romantic song, “Soon.”

This song of anticipation of love is optimistic and urgent, looking forward to the day when separation, care and danger will be behind the singers: quote “Soon, the lonely nights will be ended. Soon, two hearts as one will be blended. I’ve found the happiness I’ve waited for, the only girl that I was fated for.” “Oh, soon, a little cottage will find us, safe with all our cares far behind us. Let’s make that day come soon.” end of quote

The elegant Ella – Fitzgerald – that is, gives this Gershwin evergreen the tender treatment it deserves.

(“Soon” performed by Ella Fitzgerald)

The Biblical Songbook, being the ultimate book of practical wisdom and conduct, is filled with exhortations to wait patiently, eagerly and expectantly, and the American Songbook is the ultimate popular musical reflection of waiting for fulfillment of life’s dreams and yearning for love, companionship and satisfaction.

We Christians are not immune from waiting for life’s good things, so the Gershwin song “Soon” can speak to us. But with Jesus, we do our waiting with the assurance of future consummation, and in faith we believe that soon will come soon enough.

This is Bob Case for “Singing in the Shower: The American Songbook and the Church.”

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