Daily Riches: Music–The Best Therapy (William Cowper, Teresa of Avila, William and Randy Peterson)

“William Cowper, whose poems appear in most collections of great English literature, was beset with emotional problems throughout his life. His mother died when he was six, at school he was teased and ridiculed, and his father prevented him from marrying the girl he loved. Forced to study law, he panicked when he learned he would have his bar exam before the House of Lords–and tried to commit suicide. After a year in an insane asylum, he was released into the care of a Christian couple. It seemed that hymnwriting was the best therapy Cowper could get. But mental illness continued to plague the poet, and he frequently lapsed into deep depression. You can almost see his self-portrait [below] in the ‘fearful saints’ who need to take ‘fresh courage’ in the future blessings of God. Intellectually he knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” William and Randy Peterson

“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense.
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

“Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”

William Cowper

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away. God never changes.
Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, from her bookmark

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 62:5-6

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Both Cowper and Teresa are “talking to themselves”–like the psalmist. Do you talk to yourself? What do you say?
  • “Intellectually [Cowper] knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” Isn’t that often our experience as well? And what would you say was the truth of those lines?
  • The story refuses a typical happy ending. Cowper still suffered. He still struggled. Is there space in your view of the life of faith for that? …for people like that? …for yourself, when you’re like that?

Abba, thank you for the therapy of music.

For More: The One Year Book of Hymns, edited by Brown and Norton


Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Sanctifying the Day – Three Prayers (Thomas Arnold, John Williamson and William Britton)

“Lord, I don’t know what this day may bring…

and I’m glad
but I want to be ready for the day
prepared for me by you
and myself prepared by you
not to miss some incredible gift
not destroyed by some great loss.
I am, at your disposal
ready to love
ready to wait
ready to trust in the dark.
Prepare me to
give, receive and lose
to bless and be blessed
to rejoice, to grieve
to be much used by you
to wait expectantly for what’s next, or
to be taken home.
I am yours this day
and this day is yours for me.
May I live it to the full.”
William Britton

“O Lord, save us from idle words,
and grant that our hearts
may be truly cleansed and filled with your Holy Spirit,
and that we may arise to serve you
or lie down to sleep
in entire confidence in you and submission to your will,
ready for life or for death.
Let us live for the day
not overcharged with worldly cares,
but feeling that our treasure is not here,
and desiring to be joined to you in your heavenly kingdom
and to those who are already gone to you.”
Thomas Arnold

“Lord, it is night.
The night is for stillness.
Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world
and of our own lives
rest in you.

The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.

In your name we pray.
John Williamson

“Never stop praying.”
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you tried using prayers written by others (from the Bible or otherwise) as your own?
  • Can you think of advantages of sometimes doing that? …possible disadvantages?
  • Have you ever written down any of your own prayers? If so, what happened?

Abba, thank you for the many prayers of others that I can make my own.

For more: Praying Across The Centuries, edited by Vinita Hampton Wright


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. My goal is to share something of real value with you in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Feeling Joy In a World of Pain (Lynne Baab)

“I find it quite challenging to accept the notion that we have some sort of responsibility before God to enjoy the good things of life. For most of my adult life, I’ve had an inner dialogue running through my brain along these lines: ‘How can I truly enjoy this wonderful event when 22,000 children will die today of the effects of hunger?’ – ‘How can I relish this beautiful weather when 11.4 million Syrians are displaced from their homes?’ Ever since my mid-twenties, I’ve been much, much better at mourning with those who mourn rather than rejoicing with those who rejoice. However, I’m doing better these days enjoying God’s good gifts. I want to reflect on how that happened. …

The Sabbath.  …In Jewish tradition, prayers of intercession are not appropriate on the Sabbath because it’s a day of rest. In contrast, prayers of thankfulness are encouraged. On my Sabbath day, when I start thinking about any kind of pain in the world, the kind of situations that might motivate prayers of intercession, I tell myself, You can think about that and pray about it tomorrow. Today’s focus is rest and being present to all of God’s good gifts.’ Over many years, that Sabbath habit has helped me turn off anxiety and sorrow, albeit briefly, and focus on the gifts of the moment. …

The Psalms. In the Psalms, confession, lament, praise and thanks recur over and over, reinforcing in my mind that there is a time for everything and that life should be lived in a rhythm. Yes, it is completely appropriate to grieve over Syria and to pray for refugees. But it is equally appropriate to stop and look and enjoy the beautiful clear eyes of a small child or a flower newly unfurled.

This reality has become more real to me over time as I have practiced lack of worry and sorrow on the Sabbath and as I have practiced thankfulness. My habits have changed my thoughts. None of the shifts described here happened very quickly for me. But I can see movement over time, and I have to say that after decades of feeling so much sorrow and sadness, having a good number of moments of joy is pretty wonderful.” Lynne Baab

““For everything there is a season…
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you like a break from “feeling so much sorrow and sadness” over our pain-filled world?
  • Do you have a day in your weekly calendar where you can allow yourself to be “sorrow free?”
  • Can you see the value in such a day?

Abba, let me both weep and rejoice as I should.

For more: Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab


Thanks for reading/sharing my blog. – Bill

Daily Riches: And They Say You Never Sing (Diane Butler Bass, Don and Emily Saliers, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Toby Mac, Wolf-Dieter Zimmerman)

“And they say you never sing.” Toby Mac (“Hey Devil”)

“Some experiences are beyond words; they call forth lyrics instead. Singing marks spiritual passages–both the formal ones of birth, marriage, and death, and the informal ones of commitment, doubt, and renewal. …In many ways Christians sing faith. Musicians Don and Emily Saliers think of music as ‘soul practice,’ because music awakens our souls to matters beyond the ordinary. At moments of change in Christian history, music often opens the path that cannot be articulated, for poetry and song take us to places that prose cannot. ‘Music is not simply an ornament of something already understood in words,’ writes the Salierses. ‘Rather, ordered sound mediates the world to our senses and animates–literally, ensouls–those who enter it deeply.’ …Martin Luther wrote hymns for congregations to sing in their own languages—a daring innovation. Although medieval people participated in the Mass, vernacular singing enabled people to experience the church’s liturgies in powerful new ways. Luther loved music. He played several instruments and once commented, ‘Next to the word of God, music deserves the highest praise.’ …Luther thought music aided people in memorizing scripture, thus deepening their understanding of the written word. Luther advised clergy to sing Bible readings during Sunday worship and encouraged congregants to sing during Holy Communion. …Beyond Germany, followers of the French reformer John Calvin … busily translated the psalms into metrical verse to be sung in unison during services. Calvin himself extolled music’s power to ‘delight,’ recognizing its ‘almost incredible power to sway hearts in one sense or another.’ And English reformers created entire sung services of biblical texts, psalms, and prayers in their native tongue.” Diana Butler Bass

“‘The hymns of the ancient church, of the Reformers, of the Bohemian brethren,’ the songs of those ‘who had lived and suffered through the Thirty Year’s War … all came alive for us … and we felt them to be our own. They mirrored our situation, they echoed our praise, they voiced our petitions, they articulated our repentance. In this group experience the church became once again a living reality for us, without boundaries of time or place, and we became increasingly conscious of being her members, men committed to her service, come what might.'” Wolf-Dieter Zimmerman, describing the experience of theological students in Bonhoeffer’s clandestine seminary

“Let the godly sing” Psalm 33:1

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you experienced music’s power to transcend mere words?
  • Would people at church say of you that “you never sing?” If so, why is that?
  • How can you harness the “almost incredible power” of song for the good of your life with God?

For More: A Song to Sing … by Don and Emily Saliers


If you liked this, please share! I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Transformational Power of the Psalms (Philip Yancey, Anatoly Shcharansky, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Walter Brueggemann)

“In 1977, at the height of the Cold War, Anatoly Shcharansky, a brilliant young mathematician and chess player, was arrested by the KGB for his repeated attempts to emigrate to Israel. He spent thirteen years inside the Soviet Gulag. From morning to evening Shcharansky read and studied all 150 psalms (in Hebrew). ‘What does this give me?’ he asked in a letter: ‘Gradually, my feeling of great loss and sorrow changed to one of bright hopes.’ Shcharansky so cherished his book of Psalms, in fact, that when the guards took it away from him, he lay in the snow, refusing to move, until they returned it. During those thirteen years, his wife traveled around the world campaigning for his release. Accepting an honorary degree on his behalf, she told the university audience, ‘In a lonely cell in Chistopol prison, locked alone with the Psalms of David, Anatoly found expression for his innermost feelings in the outpourings of the King of Israel thousands of years ago.'”  Philip Yancey

“The psalms wonderfully solve the problem of a praise-deficient culture by providing the necessary words. We merely need to enter into those words, letting the content of the psalms realign our inner attitudes. Dietrich Bonhoeffer suggests that the psalms are God’s language course. Just as infants learn the mother tongue from their parents, Christians can learn the language of prayer from Psalms. …Walter Brueggemann has coined the term ‘psalms of disorientation’ to describe those psalms that express confusion, confession, and doubt. Typically, the writer begins by begging God to rescue him from his desperate straits. He may weave poetic images of how he has been wronged, appeal to God’s sense of justice, even taunt God: ‘What good can I do you when I’m dead? How can I praise you then?’ The very act of venting these feelings allows the authors to attain a better perspective. He reflects on better times, remembers answered prayers of the past, concedes favors that he may have overlooked. By the end of the psalm, he moves toward praise and thanksgiving. He feels heard and cleansed. The psalm, or prayer, works out the transformation.” Yancey

“Holy Scripture is the table of Christ,
from whence we are nourished,
from whence we learn what we should love
and what whence should desire,
to whom we should have our eyes raised.”

Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth
Psalm 119:107

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What do the Psalms mean to you?
  • Have you prayed through them lately?
  • Will you let them teach you what to love, what to desire, and to whom to raise your eyes?

For More: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey


I hope you’ll follow and share “Daily Riches.” I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)