Yesterday was a memorable one for me, culminating in a pre-arranged medical procedure at the nearby hospital. That didn’t begin until 7.30 pm, having “checked in” at 11.30 am. Waiting has never been my strongpoint. However, as memories recede, one hopefully won’t. I’m in theatre. The procedure is about to begin, medical people in their dark blue scrubs, facemarks etc all around me, I’m wired and tubed up all over the place, and someone (having discovered I’m a UCA minister and also musical) asks me what my favourite hymn is. All a bit surreal, me knowing that any time I’ll be given a general anaesthetic that will put me to sleep.
Now; I have lots of favourite hymns. Those who know me well know my worship song tastes are broad and eclectic. My favourite hymn (or one of them)? Charles Wesley’s O for a thousand tongues, originally 14 verses long, usually sung over about six verses these days.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
I remember being affected to the core – exhilarated as I sang it with hundreds of others at Sydney Town Hall in 1994, with pipe organ accompaniment, at the opening of a national Uniting Church Assembly. I remember recounting this at the conclusion of my 2007 Masters thesis. It is such a great hymn! Some worship songs do that to you.
Why am I telling you all this? Well, hospital procedure about to begin, no sooner have I suggested this hymn as my favourite, one … maybe two medicos around me start singing … yes … O for a thousand tongues. How amazing! What a gift!
And that’s all I remember. Some time later, I wake up in the recovery area. The sounds and song of this act of grace still ringing in the grogginess of my being. Yes, the triumphs of God’s grace. And what an act of grace.
Thank you hospital persons. Wesley’s classic hymn continues to bless … through people just like you.