It’s been a while since I’ve written a hymn that I thought was good. It’s been over a year, actually, and I’ve only written one this calendar year. Well, now it’s two.
I’m at the district pastors conference for the Southern Illinois District, and we’re looking at the topic of acedia, which is translated as spiritual listlessness or spiritual sloth or the equivalent. We’ve had two excellent speakers: the Reverend Doctor Joel Elowsky, who happens to be the husband of my Seventh Grade Spanish teacher at (the now-closed) St. Paul Lutheran School in North Tonawanda, New York; and the Reverend Tyler Arnold, who was well acquainted with my vicarage bishop, the sainted Reverend Kim Scharff. Anyway, during Pastor Arnold’s presentation, he quoted Psalm 143:4, which says, “Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart within me is distressed.” It sparked the notion of an idea in me, and then I decided to look at the rest of Psalm 143, and it gave me a framework. This text is pretty much a paraphrase of Psalm 143 with a few additions and changes. Feedback is love.
Give Ear, O Lord, and Hear My Plea
1. Give ear, O Lord, and hear my plea.
In faithful mercy answer me.
My righteous Lord, my prayer attend,
For You alone can help extend.
2. My spirit grieves within my breast.
I groan in wretched restlessness.
My hope is lost in dark despair.
The devil stalks me everywhere.
3. The evil foe seeks my distress.
I claim myself no righteousness.
Alone, I falter, helpless prey.
I thirst for You like crumbling clay.
4. On Your great works I meditate
And on Your boundless love I wait.
Hide not Your face, but hear my wails.
Without my God, my spirit fails.
5. Teach me to walk the faithful way.
Oh, hear Your servant, Lord, and stay.
You are my shelter and my shield.
You are my God; to You I yield.
6. Upon Your servant ever shine
And bathe me in Your grace divine.
Garb me in hope and let me see
Your triumph on my enemy.
7. Revive me by Your holy name,
And free my soul from fear and shame,
That I may sing Your joyous praise
And serve my God for all my days.
LM (88 88)
GOTTLOB, ES GEHT NUNMEHR ZU ENDE (LSB 616)
Psalm 143; Acedia (spiritual restlessness), Grief