Thought for the Day by Richard Wilson (St Chad’s)
I was struck immediately by the final exhortation in Paul’s letter to the Philippians ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway’ (vvs 4-7). These are the words of Purcell’s ‘Bell Anthem’. It was given that name because of the interlude between the voice sections which is based on a descending octave in the base duplicating the sound of the ringing of a peal of 8 bells (familiar to many at St Chad’s folk).
Joyous as this is in giving the impression that it is for happy occasions only there is a central quiet and gentle section referring to prayer and petition.
Thinking about this made me realise that these words could apply to Hezekiah too. In the previous chapter of 2 Kings there is Hezekiah’s prayer for deliverance from the king of Assyria and God’s response and in today’s reading another prayer whilst Hezekiah is ill and at the point of death when he learns from Isaiah that he is about to die. God’s response to Hezekiah’s prayer is swift when He instructs Isaiah to return immediately to Hezekiah and firstly tell him that his life will be increased by 15 years and secondly how to cure his illness.
Paul finishing his letter to the Phillipians asks them to make peace with each other where there are differences of opinion – a major point which applies to us equally today, thanks them for their support and gifts, suggests they should be happy with what they have rich or poor as he has become, and prays the grace.
We are being shown that at all times both sad and joyful prayer is always heard and answered and that we should continually ‘Rejoice in the Lord’.
If you wish to listen to the extended version of the anthem, this is the link: