A sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). What does that mean? Why would praise require a sacrifice? Is it even possible to do?
Margo B. Smith provides some clues in her latest CD release, “Alleluia Though it All,” a soothing and beautiful collection of original songs directed to God in praise.
I am normally not a big fan of praise and worship music because the songs so often are exhorting the listener to praise with simplistic, repetitive lyrics that do not tell any kind of story of what God has done. While we shouldn’t need a reason to praise God, we are human. Specific reminders of how the Lord has worked in our lives inspire the heart to praise Him.
Margo not only gives us reasons but shares a poignant story that gives meaning to “a sacrifice of praise.”
Behind the twelve songs which lift up the heart to praise is a story of sorrow, letting go and saying goodbye.
Margo’s father, Dr. Gilbert Brungardt had been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He suffered for three years before passing away in 2010.
In explaining how the songs came about during this time Margo writes, “It is difficult to watch a loved one suffer. It is natural to mourn as you watch them struggle with their illness. During that time I wrote songs. I found that lifting my heart to God and focusing on His goodness and love was the answer to my sorrow. The songs that I felt inspired to write were songs of praise. It was uplifting for me to write and sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to God.”
Many of us have gone through the suffering and death of loved ones. We may endlessly petition God for healing, strength and consolation. Or we may feel alienated from or angry at God for such suffering. We bombard Him with questions: “Why must my loved one suffer so? What’s the purpose? How could You allow this to happen? How could You do this to me?”
Margo took the opposite approach. Rather than question or petition or turn away, she turned towards Him, going with the flow of His will, her eyes fixed on Jesus.
By keeping her gaze on His holy face, she found the consolation and strength she needed to love her father through his suffering and death.
She writes, “I have found that to pray in a positive way helps me to overcome my feelings of sadness. To thank God for what He plans to accomplish in any given situation, to thank Him for His goodness and His love and to ask that He would receive glory and praise through it all, helps me. Many times when I pray this way, I feel a burden being lifted.”
In offering her sacrifice of praise to the Lord, Margo publicly shares that consolation with “Alleluia Though it All.”
Gifted with a beautiful voice that soothes like a balm, Margo sings confidently with a quiet strength. Her CD is produced simply with lovely harmonies, sparkling acoustic guitar work and instrumental accents that suit each song so well.
Several of the songs stay with me during the day, keeping me close to God and inspiring praise.
The opening song, “The Greatest Love” is lilting and uplifting with beautiful guitar work:
You are my God
You are my Savior
You are my joy, my hope
You are the greatest love I’ve ever known
“Blessed Be the Lord” gently rocks with a soft reggae beat that reminds me of the greatest example of a sacrifice of praise, Mary:
Blessed be the Lord
My soul proclaims (Blessed be the Lord)
Blessed be the Lord from age to age
My soul proclaims
Margo shares her struggle with sorrow and grief with “Living On,”
Tears in my dinner I cry at strange times
My heart feels like it’s been crushed
Pictures of you help good memories rewind
But they’re no substitute for your touch
and turns to God for comfort with “Enfold Me in Your Tenderness:”
Here’s my heart for You to mend
Enfold me in Your tenderness
In your arms I find rest
Enfold me in Your tenderness
By keeping her gaze on Jesus, Margo was able to make grief a positive experience. “My faith turned my grief into hope,” she writes. “I find that by staying focused on our heavenly hope I experience peace. It helps me to look forward to being with my loved ones when the Lord calls me home.”
While driving to work this morning I experienced firsthand that challenge of a sacrifice of praise.
I listened to Margo’s music during the trip and found myself welling up with tears as thoughts of my son’s impending move to a far-away city crossed my mind. Normally I would have given in to the grief of saying goodbye but Margo’s music and her story of perseverance and hope enabled me to make my sacrifice of praise.
“Alleluia Through it All” is a wonderful companion and reminder to those experiencing grief, sadness and struggle that God is truly ever near. Visit Margo’s website at www.margobsmith.com to purchase the CD, listen to songs, read the lyrics and find out more about Margo’s story.
Copyright 2012 Susan Bailey
About the Author
Susan Bailey is the author of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times (Ave Maria Press), and Louisa May Alcott: Illuminated by The Message (ACTA Publications), part of their Literary Portals to Prayer series. Along with her blogs Be as One and Louisa May Alcott is My Passion, Susan writes for the Diocese of Worcester newspaper, The Catholic Free Press.