"When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." — Matthew 26:30
When Jesus was born, singing was everywhere. Angels burst into song, and shepherds near Bethlehem joined in. The Savior had come to redeem the world from sin and suffering!
In our reading today we find that Jesus sang a hymn with his disciples as they were finishing the Passover meal (see Matthew 26:17). Then, as they walked to Gethsemane, he told his followers they would all fall away and he would be struck down. He was predicting that he would soon be arrested and sentenced to die. But then he said, "After I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee."
How could Jesus be so confident of the outcome? The key is probably in the hymn they had sung. It was likely the song that was traditionally sung after the Passover meal: Psalm 136, known as the Great Hallel. This psalm acknowledges God as Creator of all and as his people's Redeemer. It rehearses God's saving acts in the Old Testament and recalls that the Lord provides for us always.
I like Eugene Peterson's rendition of Psalm 136:23-26 in The Message:
"God remembered us when we were down, His love never quits. Rescued us from the trampling boot, His love never quits. Takes care of everyone in time of need, His love never quits. Thank God, who did it all! His love never quits!"