The Song of Three Young Men


One can quibble with the contents of the Veggie Tales video series.  The theology is, at best, moral therapeutic deism.  The worldview is fairly closed minded.  It might occasionally border on supercessionism.  This is all true, but is also true that some of the songs are downright catchy and that some of the dialogue can be pretty funny.  I don’t make a habit of watching Veggie Tales, but over the years, I’ve seen several episodes, and even own the Jonah movie.  For all of the good and bad, one episode in particular holds a special place in my heart.  “Rack, Shack, and Benny” tells the story of three friends of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who were in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar.  It is perhaps most famous for the “Bunny Song.”  I won’t get that stuck in your head, but I will suggest that another apocryphal song does.

In several Greek and Latin versions of the Hebrew Bible, in between Daniel 3:23 and Daniel 3:24, has been inserted a long passage that includes a song, purported to have been sung by Rack, Shack, and Benny.  It is called “The Song of the Three Jews” or, as the Book of Common Prayer calls it, “The Song of Three Young Men.”  On Trinity Sunday, a portion of that song, Benedictus es, Domine, is an optional responsory text.  John Rutter, the king of modern Anglican music, whose catalog made an appearance at both the Royal Wedding and my daughter’s dance recital on Sunday, set it to music, which can be found at S236 in the Hymnal 1982, and should be sung in every Episcopal congregation this week.

The canticle is appropriate for Trinity Sunday because it makes a passing reference to the Trinity (though that’s really just an appended doxology), but what makes me so bold as to suggest it should be sung everywhere this week is the clarity with which it handles the glory of God.  Trinity Sunday reminds us, preachers especially, that God is totally beyond our comprehension.  God is the creator of all things, the redeemer of our sinful lot, and the one who lifts us toward sanctification.  God is present in all things everywhere.  God’s throne is so large that earth is its footstool and yet God is so present as to be a still, small voice.  Because of how great God is, when we try to explain God with certainty, we fall into trouble, and so, the Benedictus es, Domine, helps to remind me that when words fail, praise can take over.

Trinity Sunday shouldn’t be about explaining the triune nature of the Godhead.  Instead, the telos of Trinity Sunday should be awe, wonder, and praise.  To my mind, there is no better form of praise than the note found at the 1:14-5 mark of the video above.  This week, dear reader, don’t get lost in the details of the Trinity, but rather, rejoice and praise.

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