URC Daily Devotion Sunday 15 January 2023

Sunday 15 January 2023
Psalm 118
This is the day the Lord has made;
he calls the hours his own.
Let heav’n rejoice, let earth be glad
and praise surround the throne.

2 Today he rose and left the dead,
and Satan’s empire fell;
today the saints his triumphs spread
and all his wonders tell.

3 Hosanna to th’anointed King,
to David’s holy Son!
Help us, O Lord; descend and bring
salvation from the throne.

4 Blessed is Jesus Christ, who came
with messages of grace,
who came in God the Father’s name
to save our sinful race.

5 Hosanna in the highest strains
the Church on earth can raise;
the highest heav’ns, in which he reigns,
shall give him nobler praise.

Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748)

You can hear the suggested tune, Nun Danket All’ Und Bringet Ehr, here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC9lKmvSB6Y

“This is the day the Lord has made” is not the first verse of the Psalm, but for generations the Church has found it a good place to start,  whether that be the day or Sunday worship or anything else we are involved in. 

Isaac Watts was part of a generation of individuals who rediscovered the hymn of worship in the sense of a free composition for worship inspired by Scripture, rather than a paraphrase of it.  The hymn in front of us appears to be part of a transition from metrical Psalms to a hymn. The words are recognisably based on the second half of Psalm 118, but Watts has moved well beyond paraphrase of even a careful hint that the text is fulfilled in Jesus. He has completely rewritten the Psalm in the light of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.

St Paul wrote in the 15th chapter of the letter to the Corinthians that those very events took place “according to the Scriptures”. Watts was clearly convinced that one of those Scriptures was our Psalm for today. For me this is not to say that the Psalm writer ‘predicted’ in detail events many years in the future but rather that they had a yearning for God’s interaction in history and it is this yearning that is fulfilled in events in Jerusalem in 30AD.

God who speaks:
We thank you for the Biblical writers 
who under the inspiration of your Spirit 
sought to express your love for us in words.
We thank you for the Word made flesh in Jesus.
We thank you for the early Christians 
who sought to understand the impact of Jesus 
in the light of the story so far.
We thank you for writers of verse and prose
in the history of your Church who 
restated the faith to make its implications clear.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Alistair Smeaton, minister in the Cumbria Missional Partnership of the NW Synod.


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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