Overcomers usually met every week at the church I went to, but for a few years, we had an annual weekend away. The group-leaders invited friends from their church in Scotland and its affiliate churches in England and Wales. There would have been around thirty of us, half I knew and half I didn’t. We’d go to a basic retreat centre – shared rooms; no en suite; nothing like the places I’d stay in nowadays. Now when I go on holiday, I like to have a room of my own because it’s nice to just take some time out if things feel too much, but there was none of that. As a blind person, everything was unfamiliar and if I needed anything, I had to ask. It was unsettling and going to the conferences made me very nervous, but I still went because sometimes in the meetings, you could really feel God’s presence. I knew they were special times and I didn’t want to miss out.
At one of these conferences, we sang this song and afterwards, it went very quiet. The Scotsman who was leading the meeting had been inspired. I remember him calling another man up to the front of the room, and dictating some lyrics as he typed into the laptop. The atmosphere was electric, and I listened closely as he rewrote the first half of the chorus. The original chorus starts:
Hear heaven’s voices sing;
Their thunderous anthem rings
Through emerald courts, and sapphire skies,
Their praises rise.
His extra chorus, which we immediately sang, went like this:
And now our voices sing;
Our grateful anthem rings
Through earthly courts, and clouded skies,
Our praises rise.
I liked that. We may not have reached the splendour of the heavenly city yet, but even where we are, our praise can still go up to God. Maybe it means more to Him because our circumstances are less than ideal. I’m not sure the extra chorus is still sung anywhere, but I hope it is.