A new song on the Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are a catalog of blessings that form the introductory portion of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. Disappointed by the lack of musical adaptations of this important Gospel text, some musicians at Hope College in Holland, Michigan—whose students have been studying the Beatitudes this semester—decided to write their own. The result is an EP of four songs, released last week under the moniker Hope College Worship. Among them is “You Are Blessed,” cowritten (with Naaman Wood) and sung by Bruce Benedict.

 

The collaborators on this project have said that as they’ve followed the news cycle this fall the Beatitudes have been for them a much-needed tool for gospel reorientation, helping them see that God’s grace is most especially available to those who are poor and weak, those who lament and mourn, those who are meek and mild, those who are starved for right, those who are merciful, those who are pure in heart, those who are filled with peace, those who are pierced for good, and (in a timely addition to the source text) to the stranger, the refugee.

“You Are Blessed” starts out slow and heavy, driven forward mostly by piano chords. But after the line “God will fill you with his goodness,” the tempo becomes plucky, buoyant, as the mandolin, banjo, double bass, and drums kick in with the “Rejoice” chorus. From timid to confident, sorrowful to exuberant, the song traces for us a common trajectory in the spiritual life, which we don’t conquer once and for all but rather walk again and again, as circumstances bring us back to the front end. The Beatitudes, with their language of lament and promise, help us pray with those who need God-given confidence and exuberance once more.

Beatitude window

Blessed are all those who feel their spiritual need (window 2 of 9), designed and painted by Siegfried Reinhardt and produced by Emil Frei, 1957. Seedy antique glass, 35 x 6 ft. Sanctuary of the Beatitudes, Second Baptist Church, Richmond Heights, Missouri.

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