I just concluded my days of leading Office this evening with vespers. You might call me lazy, avoiding having to re-mark the books for our visitors, but I used the same hymn for both morning and evening prayer today.
However, there were other motives at work here; I was not just looking for the easy way out. Praise to the Holiest in the Heights is a beautiful hymn and, at least in our breviary, it has seven verses. This is plenty to spread out over two liturgical prayer sessions!
There is something sweet, touching, and almost tender about this anthem, written by John Henry Newman around the time that our Civil War was ending. The words are poignant and touching.
In my own personal history, there is something “sweet, touching, and almost tender” about this hymn, too. The first time I ever remember hearing it was when I was exploring different religious communities before finding my way to North Dakota. It was during Lent and the song was used liturgically by the Sisters I was visiting.
Thus, whenever I hear it, I am reminded of my own journey. Hearing of Christ’s journey of love in this hymn touches me with an awareness of His presence in my own. Reflecting upon it breathes a tender gratitude into my soul.
It calls me to praise.