“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it!”
Reading that psalm starts the music going in my head. I hear my mother singing it in the kitchen … my Dad starting up the chorus in the car … my brothers and I joining in. It has a catchy little tune, the way we sang it, and it never fails as a pick-me-up.
I used to think my parents sang so much because they were always happy. Now I know the truth, because I do it myself: they sang because they determined to BE happy. “We will rejoice” – it’s a declaration! We WILL rejoice, because God made this day and we are alive to rejoice.
“Joy is a virtue of those who always look to the horizon,” Pope Francis wrote in The Joy of the Gospel. “The Christian sings with joy and walks carrying this joy.”
Psalm 118 is one of those psalms that takes distress and puts it in perspective: The Lord answers. He reaches into my shaky situation to set me on firm ground. He is on my side. He is strong for me when I’m weak. I can count on him, where people let me down.
Are you under siege today? Read Psalm 118! (Here’s a link if your Bible’s not handy.) Talk about a pick-me-up. Singing helps you keep it in your head throughout the day, but if you don’t know the song — read the psalm over and over, and settle on the part that speaks to you. Repeat it until you know it. Write it down, stick it over the sink or on your dashboard. Say it out loud each time you see it.
Pope Francis continued: “Joy is something that does not come from [circumstances or external reasons], it is something deeper, it is a gift from the Lord” that “fills us from the inside…. All joy flows from God’s love revealed in Christ.”
Determine to rejoice — actually rejoice — and you will find your heart rejoicing!
I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation […]
This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! […]
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
(Psalm 118:21, 24-25, 28-29)
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I wanted to post a recording of the little chorus we used to sing, but I can’t find a good one. Maybe your tastes run more to classical hymns? Here’s the Westminster Abbey Choir with an entirely different take on Psalm 118, by John Rutter: This is the Day
© Sarah Christmyer 2015
 Joy of the Gospel, 7.