I was walking Harvey (the dog) yesterday and had a flash back to school assembly with Mrs Wilson playing the piano.
I liked Mrs Wilson. In fact we all liked Mrs Wilson. She was a good teacher. She was probably in her late 50s and seemed, to a five-year-old boy like me, more ‘granny-like’ than the younger ‘motherly’ teachers at Hill House School. She was funny but firm. Kind and clever. I was sometimes dropped off early at school and would from time to time see her arriving in her open-top Triumph Vitesse. She would zoom into the car-park at high speed, swing round and pull into her space. I never saw her drive slowly! She played the piano at school assemblies like that too. With gusto and determination.
This all came back to me as I remembered the great Mrs Wilson accompanying us in the hymn ‘At the name of Jesus, every knee should bow’. I didn’t understand all of the words back then but I liked the tune (which I now know was ‘modern’ and composed by Michael Brierley). I enjoyed it’s rise and fall – and the interesting piano accompaniment between the verses. As I walked Harvey I began to wonder what Mrs Wilson thought about the hymn. Did she only like the tune, or did she appreciate the words too? Did she believe the words? I don’t know what she believed. But the way she played the piano felt like she certainly wanted us to enjoy the words. And I did.
It’s not a hymn I get to sing very much these days but Brierley’s Camberwell is a jolly tune and Caroline Maria Noel’s words (written in great pain) are truly inspiring. It’s a hymn that can be sung any time of year, but it’s especially apt for Advent because the last verse speaks clearly and confidently about the coming of Jesus for the second time.
‘Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again,
With his Father’s glory, with his angel train.
For all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow,
And our hearts confess him king of glory now.’
It reminds us that this second coming of Jesus will not be in obscurity as a fragile baby but in splendour as the glorious King above all kings. For those following him it will be a fantastic day. For those who aren’t it will be a humbling day of reckoning. That’s why we’d all be wise to ‘confess him king of glory now’. Not later, but now. Not when he appears for the second time, but now. Today. In anticipation of that day of days.
Jesus said, ‘Be ready, because (he) will come at an hour when you do not expect him’ (Matthew 24:44).
He couldn’t be clearer. Be ready.
Are you excited about Jesus coming again? If he returned tomorrow, would you be ready? Is there anything you must put right?