The Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, writes:

The Song of the Saints

November is a month of contrasts. It begins with the celebration of All Saints’ Day and the commemoration of All Souls – we look beyond ourselves to the great communion of Saints in their endless song of praise and remember our loved ones, now at rest, joined we pray in that communion of perpetual light and adoration.

The silence of death and the song of heaven. I know that many of you have felt a deep sense of sadness at being forbidden to join that heavenly song in our own churches in recent times, and thanks be to God that restrictions on singing are now lifting.

When Israel found itself exiled in Babylon, they too lost their song – “how do we sing the Lord’s song” they asked, “in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137). The past months have felt like an exile to a foreign land, a strange and unsettling time – not only the pandemic, which has affected us all, but events in the wider world, the climate emergency, political and social upheaval, both here and abroad – these are certainly uncertain times, an exile from the familiar, one which may prove long lived. It can seem that our song of praise is drowned out by the noise of the world around us, overwhelmed by those voices which would seek to draw us away from the truth, the truth who is Jesus Christ.

But amongst all this, the “still small voice” (1 Kings 9:12) remains – that which is in our hearts and on our lips as people of faith, the voice of Jesus, who calls us into a living relationship with Him. This song is a song of hope for something better – both in this world and the next.

Perhaps this is a chance for us all to sing to the Lord a new song (Psalm 96), and I think here of Mary’s song too – her “soul magnifying the Lord” and a life given over entirely to God. A chance to renew, not only ourselves but, in our own small way, the world around us – to be love and mercy itself in a confused and hurting world.

When we sing such a song, our voice does not seem so small, for we are joined to that eternal hope, the song of heaven which no pandemic, no earthly power, nothing can silence – the song which endures forever, the song which brings us life and conquers death. We are not alone, for our song is that of the Saints, too – an eternal hymn of praise to God.