The Simplest and the Best

Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”

Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.”

Let those who fear the Lord say:  “His love endures forever.” When hard pressed, I cried to the Lordhe brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.  All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”  I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.  Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Lord, save us! Lord, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. From the house of the Lord we bless you.  The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine on us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you; you are my God, and I will exalt you.  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.


The music of Holy Week is special. It occurred to me that it had been three years since we could gather to sing the music which graces Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The last phrase of the first stanza of “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” was  meaningful. This text was written in 1873 by Jennette Threlfall, but it seemed to stir a memory in me: “To Jesus, who had blessed them, close folded to his breast,

The children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.”

When I entered third grade, I was eligible to sing in the Boy Choir at Rosedale Gardens Church. We practiced at 9:45 on Saturday mornings! Our director was Shirley Harden and she really liked the music of Richard Avery and Donald Marsh. Their songs were simple. To some they are best. Above all they are memorable:

“Every morning is Easter morning from now on.

Every day is resurrection day, the past is over and gone.

Goodbye fear, goodbye guilt, good riddance, hello Lord, hello Son.

I am one of the Easter people, my new life has begun.”

Avery & Marsh have both joined the Church Triumphant, but their legacy of simple lyrics and tunes has had  tremendous theological impact. Their original goal was contemporary music in the 1960s and 70s. The songs will be oldies for some, but for many more they are favorites.

Do you have favorite songs from Holy Week?


Prayer: Loving God, help us find our voices and the words to praise you.


Nathan Martens