Lament

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door
Oh, hard times, come again no more

“Hard times” by Australian song writer Paul Kelly is a modern day lament. His opening line is a powerful reminder that our attempts to push on through hard times can be damaging not to mention dishonest about the harsh realities of life in this world.  And so "Hard times” is a protest not only against suffering but against our attempts to minimise it or move on quickly from it. We might be afraid of letting people see that we’re not coping. We might be scared of admitting to ourselves that we’re not holding life together. But Paul Kelly says “let us pause” and face the reality that there are times when life is devastating. Let us cry out against those times.

And yet “Hard times” doesn’t hold out much in the way of hope. Perhaps this is because it doesn’t show us who we can cry out to.

And this is one thing which makes the laments we find in Scripture stand out. They are no less honest about the realities of hardship. They give voice to fear and confusion. They cry out in pain and ask difficult questions. But most significantly they direct these laments - not to the universe - but to God. The Psalmist asks:

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?


He accuses:

You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep. Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples… Because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?


And as he creates for us a tradition of lament he gives us permission to do the same.

On Sunday 1st October St Alban’s 10am and 6pm held services of lament. This was an opportunity to pour out our souls to God. If you would like to listen to the talk from that Sunday it is online at this link.

Matt

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay
There are frail forms fainting at the door
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered all around my cabin door
Oh, hard times, come again no more

'Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave
'Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
'Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary
Hard times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door
Oh hard times come again no more
Oh hard times come again no more