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Marlene’s Meditations

From Sorrow to Celebration

By Marlene Houk

Burke County

Do you know the definition of sibilance? Many famous authors, musicians, and poets use this literary device to create feelings and draw in readers and listeners.

The website,, defines this literary device: “Sibilance is a figure of speech in which a hissing sound is created within a group of words through the repetition of “s” sounds.

An example of sibilance is: ‘Sadly, Sam sold seven serpents to Sally and Cyrus in San Francisco.”

The site also explains why authors like Shakespeare, John Donne, Milton, and even modern songwriters like Bob Dylan use this method. The following list helps explain why they use sibilance.

  • It can make the words in phrases more memorable because they share sounds in common.
  • Sibilance increases the sonic or “musical” quality of words. It also encourages the reader to spend more time looking at, sounding out, and thinking about those words.
  • Because it encourages readers to pay more attention to language, sibilance  can have the effect of slowing down the reading process, and strengthening reading-comprehension as a result.
  • It encourages repeated reading. Sibilance aids in memorization and recitation.
  • Sibilance can imitate, or do the thing that is being described, rather than simply talking about it.’

Schlegel, Chris. “Sibilance.” LitCharts LLC, May  5, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2019.

God has designed language to reflect his unparalleled brilliance and infinite genius. Even the way we use letters to bring understanding and enjoyment to the reader and listener reflects his design.

Like using sibilance in writing, God uses our praises to him to bring about change in us. As sibilance produces an effect, so our praises to God result in astounding and joyful changes in us. When we begin our relationship with him in salvation, we receive the rights and privileges of praise. What does praise change in us? The following shortlist reveals a few of praise’s glorious effects:

  • When Sarah, Abraham’s wife, ignored God’s covenant with Abraham and gave her maid to her husband to have a child, the LORD still allowed her to have her own baby, at a miraculous age of 90 years old.

Even though we are stopped by the brick walls of our own sin, God looks beyond the cracks of our failures and continues with his plan for us. Like Sarah, the eternal light of faith comes shining through those fissures. Then, we too, like Sarah, can laugh as we praise him for his faithfulness to us.

Genesis 21:6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

  • When we feel lonely, isolated, or rejected, the LORD is near to us when we praise him.

Psalm 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel

  • When we feel imprisoned by the world’s notions or shackled by life’s troubles praising God will break the binds that keep us from enjoying life. Like the disciples in the following verse, praising God can change your emotions from despair to delight. Your shackles will fall off. When you are in the pit of life, and the gloomy fog of failure surrounds you, praise him.

Acts 16:25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

  • According to Forbes, Americans spent 445 billion dollars on skincare products in 2017. But the greatest beauty enhancer is free. The simple act of praise beautifies us with a glow from within that surpasses any product discovered by the industry. Praise is one of the greatest beauty enhancers of all the ages!

Psalm 33:3 Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.

  • When we realize that we are accepted by the King of the Ages, because of his beloved Son, Jesus, we can exult in our rescue. Acknowledging God’s redemption brings a reflex action of praise.

Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

  • When we realize that our enemies are beneath us, and that God is in control, our praise becomes a commitment.

Psalm 27:6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore, will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Singing happy songs replaces the receptors that stress destroys. God knows what we need to enjoy him. Like the literary device of sibilance that offers a happy musical sense to a poem or prose, praising God brings the melody of joy that lifts our souls out of the gloom and points others to the God who draws them with loving kindness.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore, with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

So, pick up your harp; lift your voice, and sing with sibilant praise to the LORD!