In 1966, famed singer Jackie Wilson gifted the world with an extraordinary performance of the song, Higher and Higher. A song full of unforgettable adoration and confession, “Your love has lifted me higher, than I’ve ever been lifted before”, astonishing aspiration and promise, “so keep it up, quench my desire, and I'll be at your side forevermore”, all orchestrated, into a cherished melody.
Less pop, more poetry, Psalms 36: 5 – 11 strikes the same timeless, emotive cords, a familiar celestial adulation, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens your faithfulness to the skies,” while admitting to our human imperfection, “May the foot of the proud not come against me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.”
In the days of Lent, a time we revisit scripture, poised to deepen our faith, we may be elated or lost, intrigued yet reluctant. Sometimes, for me, I do admit, it’s just hard to get into the rhythm and pulse of the ancient bible, to relate, when its creators—writers, poets, and singers—are figments of biblical lore, faceless, some nameless. But, oh isn’t it astonishing, the stuff of shaky knees, when old words find a new voice and power in the music of a skinny soul singer. A giant little artist who ‘lifted us up’ with his psalm like message and danced his way into our hearts.
On September 29, 1975, Jackie Wilson collapsed from a massive heart attack and remained semi-comatose for nine years until his death in 1984, at the age of 49. Wilson was inducted in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and later ranked in the list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Could it be, that Wilson was a Lenten angel, a fleeting image, a timeless courier of God’s own poetry, delivering an eternal message, and giving us one more way to feel and fathom God’s boundless love and lifting us higher and higher, “than ‘we’ve’ ever been lifted before.”