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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Sing the Presence of the Lord

It's where the joy is.

O God, defend me everywhere
With Your impregnable power and protection.
Deliver all my mortal limbs,
Guarding each with Your protective shield,
So the foul demons shall not hurl their darts
Into my side, as is their wont.

  - “The Breastplate of Laidcenn”, Irish, 8th-9th century[1]

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
Make haste to help me, O LORD!
Let them be ashamed and confounded
Who seek my life;
Let them be turned back and confused
Who desire my hurt.

  - Psalm 70.1, 2

Jesus Christ is the “With-Us” God. He is Immanuel. He has promised to be with us always. We should expect Him to fulfill that promise, and thus we should expect to know Him with us in glory, beauty, strength, comfort, peace, and joy wherever we are, whatever we’re doing. Jesus will never fail us nor forsake us. All the strength and help we need to experience full and abundant life are available to us every moment, because Jesus is the With-Us God.

Many Celtic Christians maintained an acute sense of the Presence of God—His immanence, His real and personal Presence with them, wherever they went. This is one of the great legacies of that remarkable period (ca. 430-800). To remind themselves of this Presence, and even to enter it really and fully, they wrote songs, and sang them frequently.

A lorica or “breastplate” poem—like the excerpt from “The Breastplate of Laidcenn”—invoked divine protection in the everyday circumstances of life. Believers would pray or sing these poems at various times of the day, to remind them of the Lord’s Presence and care, and to encourage and embolden them in their journey or work. Reminded of God’s Presence, invoking His power for every aspect of their lives, and celebrating God’s sovereign help in song, they could approach the day ahead with courage, confidence, and joy.

These old poems remind us that God is with us and caring for us always, down to the smallest detail of our lives. Nothing about us is unimportant to our Lord. Nothing in our lives is outside the scope of His attention and care. It may not always seem as though the Lord is present and caring for us, but He always is.

These lorica hymns have affinity to certain of the psalms, combining elements of complaint, imprecation, and supplication as they call on the help of God and angels for protection throughout the day, or for some journey or task. Psalm 70 is a good example, as is Psalm 3.

The principle motivating these poems is sound: Our Lord will never fail us nor forsake us. He is with us always, and we have our very being and all our movement in Him. Our Shepherd is always caring for us and upholding us by His Word of power (Matt. 28.20; Heb. 1.3). So it can be a source of comfort and confidence to remind ourselves in song of all the ways the Lord Jesus protects our minds, affections, and bodies, and how He guards the path and even shapes the attitudes of those we might meet along the way.

So don’t let your singing be confined to the time you spend in worship with God’s people. And don’t sing only those songs that have pleasing melodies or easily-remembered lyrics. Search out psalms and hymns that can be beneficial for your daily walk with and work for the Lord. Sing them over and over, until you know them by heart.

Then sing them throughout the day, letting their melodies and lyrics lift you above your everyday setting into the Presence of eternal glory. Linger there in meditation and prayer, waiting on the Lord, thanking and praising Him for all His abundant goodness to you.

In heaven, angels and departed saints sing continually to the Lord (Rev. 4, 5). All that prevents us from joining our voices with theirs is the will to do so.

Questions for Reflection
1. Do you have a favorite hymn that helps you to engage the Presence of God? Sing a stanza or two of it right now.

2. What could you do to remind yourself to bring more singing into your walk with and work for the Lord?

Psalm 3.3, 4 (Eventide: Abide with Me)
You are a mercy shield about me, LORD,
Raising me by Your glory and Your Word.
Prayers fraught with tears stream from me like a fount,
Yet God will answer from His holy mount.

T. M. Moore

You can learn to sing the psalms—every one of them. The Ailbe Psalter sets all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes, like the excerpt from Psalm 3 above. Order your copy by clicking here. Or, if you prefer, order a free PDF which can be downloaded and put on your e-reader by clicking here.

Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Davies, p. 290.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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