Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Blessed Assurance

The Mayberry Church Community  ~ Sunday Morning

Here's a scene from a early 1960's television series, The Andy Griffith Show. It is Sunday morning in the Mayberry Community Church. Sheriff Andy Taylor is in the front row with Deputy Barney Fife and son, Opie. Aunt Bea is behind them with a neighbor-lady. No wimpy singing in this little church. 

But Andy Griffith was a God-loving man, and he believed in the power of hymn-singing in real life. He said: 

"You know when you're young you think you will always be. As you become more fragile, you reflect and you realize how much comfort can come from the past. Hymns can carry you into the future."

When he spoke of becoming "more fragile" he had in mind our aging minds and bodies. I'm aware of that in my own life, but I'm thinking even more of how life itself is fragile at every stage: the fragile life of every baby, the fragile life of Christians in many places, the fragile life of the poorest people, the fragile life of the planet itself - so greedily, ruthlesslly plundered and wasted. 

What do you hold onto in this fragile life? A woman wrote not too long ago, so worried about the future of our country - how bitter and ugly we've appeared recently.  She said that she was going to hunker down and focus on her family, promoting its life, health and goodness with new energies. I understand.

And I would add to that: Let's each find a really great hymn, memorize all the verses and sing it often. There are many stories in the long history of the Church where burdened Christians walked while singing hymns.

Blessed Assurance is my favorite hymn, composed in 1873 by Fanny Crosby, who was blind.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight!
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love

This is my story, this is my song,...

Perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blessed,
Watching and waiting looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

And here are some personal first-thoughts about each line of the hymn.

Jesus is mine: In a world of so much loss, I have Christ.
A foretaste: Heaven shows itself even now in Christ.
Heir of Salvation: not just about going to heaven - but NOW.
Purchase of God: Who has gone to a lot of trouble not to lose me.

My story; my song: "For me, to live is Christ," says St. Paul.
All the day long: No Sunday-morning-call-it-a-day religion.

Submission: Jesus, teach me; lead and guide me.
Visions of Rapture: "Earth is crammed with heaven..."
Angels descending: bring reverberations of God's kindness,
 and the heady intimacy of God's love for us in Christ.

All at rest: "Let nothing make you afraid," writes St. Teresa of Avila.
Happy and Blessed. Love is redundant.
Watching and Waiting: "In joyful hope" we pray at Mass.
Lost in his love: The Christian life isn't a rule book but an encounter with a  living, loving Jesus.

Spring Harvest, sings Blessed Assurance here with a brisk joy. I could sing this wonderful hymn all day.


  1. I am grateful for your commentary. It really ads meaning to the lyrics when I hear your own words ringing in my ears as I listen. You are the best religion teacher I have ever had Father.

  2. I am pleased for the connection. Many thanks!

  3. At each stage of life we are fragile in some way. Keeping Jesus with us gives strength and protection. I know that Jesus would never abandon us, but we have to be aware that He is there walking beside us. I envision a smiling Jesus when we spread His praises through song.

  4. I remember the folk songs that we used to sing at Mass when I was a child. Every time I hear one today, it brings me back to those days when our family was close and my world was small. They are comforting memories and fill me with joy. I might look some up and pay more attention to the words and look for meaning in them as you have done here.

  5. What a good idea. You're an adult now. You're personal world and the larger world have changed indeed. The hymn verses will take on a whole new meaning.

  6. I understand the feeling of becoming more fragile and looking back more than looking forward. I remember watching Andy Griffith. These days, they never show folks attending Church services on TV. Do our young people even know any hymns?

    1. I'm sorry to say but I don't think many Americans (and not just young ones) could even manage Silent Night or (and this is scary) The Star Spangled Banner.

  7. My favorite hymn is Bless Be the Lord, always reminding me that God is merciful and will save us, even from ourselves. I don't even recognize most of the hymns that are sung today. It is no wonder that no one sings along with the cantor. My Protestant friends seem to make knowing their hymns a priority. Everyone sings young and old.

    1. Yes they do. I've been to Episcopalian liturgies a number of times - the congregational singing is stirring and filled with the sound of believing. I don't understand why Catholics have such a poor reputation in this regard. It doesn't help that the priest doesn't join in the song or that we only sing one verse - anything more is frowned upon.

  8. It is a good feeling to hear pleasant sounding music in praise of Jesus. Even though, things in our house were not always harmonious. I looked forward to the Andy Griffith Show because of its harmonious relationships. Everything was treated with respect and good nature. Who could not but get a big laugh out of Deputy Barney Fife. Thanks for the memory!

  9. I've been tempted at times to idealize the Mayberry community: how peaceful, how problems are solved, how folks make-up with a handshake. Sheriff Andy Taylor doesn't carry a gun, and Barney has only one bullet in his, and if he misuses that gun, Andy takes the bullet away for a time. But the series takes place in the early 60's and you never see a person of color in Mayberry. In parts of our country, if you were black, you lived a segregated life and could wind up hanged for looking at someone the wrong way. I must remember the harsher America of that time. And sad to say, that racism runs deep in our country still. But yes, there are important life lessons we can learn from the show - like the invitation to sing hymns. But we must sing them in truth. P.S. I imagine many people stepped into the world of the Andy Griffith show whose own homes were not always harmonious. I did.