On one hand we’re urged to live in the moment and savor the experience of NOW. And on the other hand, our culture tells us to plan for the future, to have a vision for what we want to accomplish and where we want to go with our lives. Corporations try to do this with either a Mission Statement (who are we NOW?) or a Vision Statement (who do we want to be in the future?). Most likely we strive to incorporate both vision and mission into our own lives, and equally likely we probably have minimal success with one or the other. Or when we’re really in trouble, minimal success with both!
NOW is the hymn tune associated with a text by poet and Lutheran pastor Jaroslav Vajda, found in The Hymnal 1982 at #333. It’s an impressionistic piece of poetry without punctuation and seemingly random phrases strung together.
Now the silence Now the peace Now the empty hands uplifted Now the kneeling
Now the plea Now the Father’s arms in welcome Now the hearing Now the pow’r
Now the vessel brimmed for pouring Now the body Now the blood
Now the joyful celebration Now the wedding Now the songs
Now the heart forgiven leaping Now the Spirit’s visitation
Now the Son’s epiphany Now the Father’s blessing
Now Now Now
Vajda wrote about the text’s genesis:
Somewhere in the back of my mind, during my previous eighteen years of full-time parish ministry, I was accumulating reasons and benefits in worship. I felt that we often get so little out of worship because we anticipate so little, and seldom come with a bucket large enough to catch all the shower of grace that comes to us in that setting. Suddenly the hymn began to form in my mind as a list of awesome and exciting things one should expect in worship.
The Eucharist is not a re-enactment of a distant historical event in Vajda’s poem, but something to be experienced NOW. The tune by Carl Schalk seems to have no beginning or end, emerging from the atmosphere of worship and continuing on after we no longer hear it. Part of a continuous stream of now’s.
The tune and text are simple. No big words. No complex harmonies. Maybe our vision and mission for the new year could be equally simple. Love one another, as God has loved us. Now.
PS I am so sorry not to include a link to a performance of Now the silence, but I just couldn’t find one that I wanted to share with you. If you’re in Washington D.C. this Sunday you can be part of NOW by singing it at either the 9:15 or 11:15 services at St. Alban’s.