Our Father, sung

You cannot call the God of all kindness your Father
if you preserve a cruel and inhuman heart;
for in this case you no longer have in you
the marks of the heavenly Father’s kindness. – St. John Chrysostom

The “Our Father” is the supreme prayer in the Christian tradition, and none rivals it. It was the only prayer taught by the Son of God, given to us to join him in effecting the restoration of the world and the liberation of creation by the children of God. To pray it is to enter deep into the mind and heart of Jesus, where this prayer was first conceived and composed. Just imagine him working with great care and love on composing it, years before his public ministry.

In the Our Father is the whole Gospel, all of divine revelation, the key that unlocks the meaning of all existence and disposes us to receive the eternal Kingdom that is coming into the world. It is the distillation and perfection of all the psalms, with its seven petitions through which we pass safely from this world to the Father. When you pray it, the Father is supremely attentive as in it he hears the Voice of his Son.

In the very early church, we have literature counseling all Christians to pray it three times a day — morning, noon, night — to threaten all of one’s waking hours with intrusions of eternity. When you pray it, lose yourself with the Son in the Father by words that pierce his merciful heart and unleash life-giving Blood and Water on the whole world through the heart of his Son.

This Aramaic version of the Our Father, chanted before Pope Francis when he visited the country of Georgia, I find so haunting, profound and lush in beauty. A way to lift mind and heart to God. I imagine Jesus himself singing it this way — not speaking it — when he taught it to his disciples. And as I watched this first a few years ago, I imagined Jesus teaching it to the little girl he raised from the dead (talitha koum), inviting her to join him in singing it with him to the Father.

Imagine this with me, and see in the cantor’s eyes the eyes of the Son looking up to his Father, as he sings:

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