Singing Praise In Every Season: Assisted Living Home Hymn-Sings

by Kristen Gilles

in Exhortations And Musings

"Elderly Gentleman" by Lucia Whittaker, used via Creative Commons license, based on a work by David HockneyA few days ago I had the joyful privilege of worshiping with the residents of the Beehive Assisted Living Home in my community. The men and women who live here need continuous nursing care. They are seasoned well, one of them celebrating his 100th birthday next week. Several women from my church regularly visit these precious people and share God’s love with them through comforting hugs, words of encouragement and hymns of praise.

They were delighted to have our company, and they generously shared smiles and conversation (as they were able) with us. Such hospitality and thanksgiving on display for the glory of God.

I was also reminded of my grandparents who both took their last breaths in nursing homes, after giving many years of their life together in service to the elderly in their community. They had made weekly visits to nursing home residents where they shared times of singing hymns and hearing God’s Word together. I appreciate the faithful example of my grandparents who joyfully shared the hope they had in Christ with others in their community.

After greeting the residents, I grabbed my guitar and led several hymns. I was struck by the conviction and sincere worship expressed by the residents as they sang praise together. Some of them were not able to sing at all. Others sang quietly. One sweet gentleman, Beryl, was afflicted with a sore throat, but that didn’t stop him from singing in a heartfelt whisper. I learned that his wife had been a choir director. He seemed to know every hymn ever written. I was most blessed watching his face while we sang—he looked radiant, aglow with love for Christ and full of the life of Christ. Several times I saw him moved to tears as we sang Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Such an honest, appropriate, grateful response to God’s faithfulness throughout our lives:

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not. As Thou has been Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

Sojourn Visual Arts Leaf Scans. No matter what season of life we're in, Jesus IS the life

No matter what season of life we're in, Jesus IS the life

These residents have very little strength left to do anything on their own. They know they are nearing the end of their lives. They probably don’t have much to look forward to on this earth from one day to the next. But those who know Christ have everything to look forward to. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

I saw this hope overflowing from their hearts as we sang of Christ’s promised return and the redemption of our mortal, dying bodies. We reflected on the great, gracious exchange of our sins for Christ’s righteousness, and we remembered His promised preparation of our eternal home with Him in glory. Hymns that I’d sung countless times now held greater significance as I joined in hopeful song with fellow believers who would soon meet their Savior face to face.

Another woman, Maggie, surprised me when she burst into exuberant, loud singing on the chorus of the first song we sang, How Great Thou Art. I hadn’t noticed her until that moment when we sang

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee, how great Thou art! How great Thou Art!”

She erupted in praise and blessed everyone in the room because we could all hear her. She sang like this on most of the hymns — quiet on some of the verses as she couldn’t remember all of them, but shouting the gospel in the choruses she knew by heart.

Maggie wasn’t the only member of our community to burst into song on a familiar chorus. Another gentleman named Whitie (his last name is White) had remained silent through the entire hymn-sing until one of our last songs when, out of nowhere it seemed, he lifted his voice in triumphant praise. I don’t remember which song we were singing, but I remember seeing something change in Whitie’s countenance as he heard the word of truth in a familiar tune. It was like his memory had been jogged and his heart and voice responded to the reminder of gospel truth.

I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together.”(Psalm 34:2-3)

I was further reminded as we sang in the midst of those who were unable to sing—some sat motionless, almost paralyzed—that our verbal, audible thanksgiving and praise to God benefits the afflicted and helpless around us who cannot sing with their own voices or strength. I reflected on this in a recent blog:

“Giving thanks is not only for God’s benefit. It also blesses us and anyone else listening. By letting our voices resound with thankful praise to God within earshot of those who are also afflicted, we serve to uplift and encourage and afford an opportunity for them to hear and rejoice with us because of God’s faithful goodness at all times.”

I felt so blessed by the way these children of God declared the gospel — through hymns of grateful praise and thanksgiving — to those in their community who have not yet believed in Christ and found eternal salvation and hope in Him. This is another reason we praise the Lord at all times, in every circumstance:

that many will see and be amazed at what He has done and put their trust in the Lord (Psalm 40).

When God puts His song in our hearts and mouths, we must sing aloud this new hymn of praise to the One who is able to lift anyone from the ash heap, to rescue anyone out of darkness, to save any and all who call upon His name. This is what He has done for us and we should boldly proclaim with our brothers and sisters of the Beehive Assisted Living Home the great faithfulness of the Lord who has provided all that we need in Jesus.

I pray that God would strengthen and inspire me, like Maggie and Beryl, to sing His praises all of my days.

Top Photo “Elderly Gentleman” by Lucia Whittaker, used via Creative Commons license

Bottom image “Leaf Scans” courtesy Sojourn Visual Arts

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