The Third Verse

I grew up singing hymns in church. Yes, I’m old. Well, middle aged. But anyway…a lot of times we would sing several songs but never sing all of any one song. We’d do the first and last verse or verses 1, 2, and 4, but generally not every verse. The poor third verse always got left out!

How would the writers of those hymns feel if they knew we skipped over 1/4 of their work every. single. week? Many of the old hymns tell stories. Maybe the writers agonized for hours or days over the perfect word to convey what they wanted to say in verse three. Maybe the writers felt the third verse was critical in the story so that the final verse would make sense or leave us with a greater sense of awe over our Creator’s love for us. Who knows?

It also occurs to me that I am sort of embarking upon the third verse of my life. The third quarter, actually. If I live to be twice as old as I am now I will have outlived all of my grandparents. I’m in the stage of life where my most important work thus far, the training up of my children, is almost complete. One child is heading back to university in a week and the other will follow in three years (that will feel like they went by in a week). And yes, I’ve spent hours and days agonizing over whether I said the perfect words to convey what I needed to say and teach to my children.

Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.

Psalm 90:12 (HCSB)

This third verse certainly is a time of transition. But I think it’s also a time of renewal. I’ll be able to shift my focus and priorities outward as the needs of my family diminish. I’ll start new things, like this blog, and find new beginnings and new ministries. And all of it will lead to a grand climax in the final verse. Hopefully the final verse of my life, all of it, really, will leave my family with a greater sense of awe over our Creator’s love for us.

I should say I’m sorry for getting all nostalgic and contemplative on you, but I’m not. If we’re going to chat over coffee then these topics are going to come up sometimes, and they should. They’re part of our human experience and we can learn from each other.

So to that end, are there any others in the third verse who have words of wisdom to share with me or others? Or is there anyone with advice for navigating the ups and downs of the final verse?

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4 responses to “The Third Verse

  1. What does HCSB mean?

    Is the third verse of life a thing? I don’t think I’ve heard of life broken up into 4 verses. I have heard of 7 stages, somewhere, once upon a time.

    We sing hymns in church, of course, somewhere between 7-10 per service. I have never heard of cutting out verses . Is that to make service shorter? Our service ends when it is over, not at a proscribed time. I don’t know if I would like being told to sing just verse 1 and verse 4…the message would lose it’s cohesiveness.

    Our church has hymn sings for Sunday night service. They are open to the public and we get many visitors. They must not be getting the music they are looking for in their own churches??


    • HCSB is the Holman Christian Standard Bible, an English translation of the Bible. Each of the English translations seems to have its pros and cons, so my husband will generally check several versions to get a clear picture of the verse when preparing his sermons.

      As for music, every congregation has its practices, traditions, and favorites. Modern church music, hymns or otherwise, didn’t exist in Biblical times, so each congregation must choose its worship style, so long as those assembled are worshiping in “spirit and truth” as Jesus said in John chapter 4.

      And the “third verse” is just a comparison that I’ve drawn for my own life. As I’m entering the stage of launching my children into their adult lives I’m finding new opportunities to serve and teach others. It’s a period of transition but not a “verse” I intend to leave out of my life’s story.


  2. Oh I see, as re’ the third verse. Both in life and music. I don’t have a lot of experience with other churches. I was born, raised, baptized, married all in the same church (denomination) as far back in my family as anyone knows. I really have only been to other churches like Catholic, Lutheran and Protestant for things like weddings and funerals of friends, neighbors etc. Have never attended an actual Sunday service in one.

    By the way, I really AM enjoying your column. You have an ease with the written word. You do very well with the INSPIRATION columns that demonstrate your husband’s sermons.


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