Text: Anonymous Tune: Anonymous
1. The wise man built his house upon the Rock, The wise man built his house upon the Rock, The wise man built his house upon the Rock, And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, But the house on the Rock stood firm.
2. The foolish man built his house upon the sand, The foolish man built his house upon the sand, The foolish man built his house upon the sand, And the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, And the house on the sand fell flat.
3. So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, So build your life on the Lord Jesus Christ, And the blessings will come down. The blessings come down as your prayers go up, The blessings come down as your prayers go up, The blessings come down as your prayers go up, So build your life on the Lord.
MEDITATION We were in the car and the baby was fussy. She hated the restraints of the car seat. Her mother turned to her and started singing "The Wise Man Built his House upon the rock," complete with gestures. It quieted her down and began a sing along that lasted until we arrived at our destination. What we sang were the children’s songs that teach Bible stories. Almost anyone can remember and sing them, teaching them to the next generation. The gestures help and reduce all of us, even jaded teenagers—if there is a baby around—to children again.
Alice Parker, the maven of choral and congregational singing in the US today, now in her nineties, has said in a wonderful interview on PBS with Krista Tibbets, that she knew, as the mother of five children, that singing came first. Children could hum along with simple songs long before they can speak. And they really like songs.
In fact, parents, usually firsttime parents, play Mozart to the babe in utero so that when they are older, they will know some of the greatest music ever written and be calmed by it. Not a bad idea.
It used to be that families would sing together a lot more than they do today, especially in the car. Now we turn on a CD of DVD so we can listen and watch together. I don’t like that. Unless we are singing together the music and words do not make the same kind of impression on us, physically. And that is a loss. When we start singing together again I hope we can learn again to cherish the joy of that physicality and union of bodies and souls joined in song, especially the song of of the Gospel.
This song teaches the great parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. Jesus has just preached a remarkable sermon on the Mountain, reminding all of us of Moses on the mountain. He has given us a vision of the heavenly kingdom and how one lives in it, with his beatitudes, the law elaborated, advice on how we are to do mission, and who we are to be—light and salt, then how to pray—the Lord’s Prayer—and at the end this parable. In order to stand fast against all the buffeting from the world, we must build on the solid rock. He is the solid rock the song tells us.
There is also a time when we sing Zaccheus to the little ones. I love that moment when they are able to understand both the words and gestures and they look up at this crazy old aunt acting like a child singing about one like them who came to faith, whom the Lord went to visit. Nobody needs to explain these stories, they do so on their own. And enter into the memory forever. And so in our sing-along we continue through other such songs—Fishers of men, Climb Climb up Sunshine Mountains, on and on. In doing so we are passing on the faith in the best and most lovely way there is.
While kids can learn any song, we start here. Children learn what you teach them. Two year olds can lisp Holy, Holy, Holy, Great is thy Faithfulness, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and so forth. We start with the fun ones, but should not neglect all of the other ones. It is the music that goes deep. Baby Sing, a program to get mothers and babies together for song has traveled around the world in churches because parents get this.
We know this when we sing for people suffering Alzheimers or other kinds of dementia. Their fragmented memories can come up with whole songs by heart which they are happy to sing.
So this project of singing with the kids isn’t just about enjoying the moments with a young one. It is planting a seed that will bear fruit until the very end. In some ways the whole Christian life is about living and dying. In Sunday school and confirmation we are giving the young words and memories they can die with. That is not a grim thing to imagine. It is plain good sense. In the same way that we were told by our grandmothers to be prepared to meet many emergencies in life, so this work is a kind of planting that will bear rich fruit. Long after I have gone into a world of light, these words will be lisped by the little ones I have had the pleasure and responsibility of guiding into the faith so they can build their lives on the Lord Jesus Christ, the rock. Songs I learned as a child and taught the next generation singing together. A duty and delight!
HYMN INFO Of course, almost all of these songs are by that great writer Anonymous. Where and how they emerged is hidden in the mists of the past, but like most songs by anonymous they seem to be like a mountain or ocean that have always been there in our memory, ready to be called up whenever the moment calls for it.
LINKS Through the Waters—Eleven Million views! https://youtu.be/Eu5bBDRpzPM
Tiny Tree Tunes
The Bible Fellowship Kids https://youtu.be/pXKd--PbaaE
Apus Singers https://youtu.be/-nc_b0R8SRg
NB I will be done with the daily hymnblog on Sunday. From then on I will send one every week to all those of my current subscribers. Some have asked me to loop the ones from last year since they had not signed up until later in the year. After some conversation with my techies, we have decided to include at the bottom of each weekly blog links to a week of blogs in their consecutive original order that you can follow as you wish. So you will not get a daily email with a link, but if you like you can go to them daily at your leisure either at the Hymnfortheday.com site, or follow the links I have provided for you in the weekly blog.
My book of sonnets, Jesus The Harmony, can be ordered from Augsburg Fortress now.