Thursday, July 14, 2011

This is My Song

This remarkable hymn inspired me as I sang it with a group of wonderful people who were memorializing my nephew!
by Charlie Leck

I was in Boston over the last few days to attend a memorial service for one of my nephews – a guy I was very close to and for whom I held enormous admiration and love. The service was arranged by the department for which he worked at Boston University. It was an extraordinary event and it was deeply helpful to all of those in mourning. Though a hot, hot, hot day in Boston, the large, non-air conditioned chapel at the University was packed with admirers, followers and family of my nephew.

My real point here is to say that I was terribly impressed by the closing hymn of the service – one which I can’t remember ever singing before. It contained a message that I think all Americans should understand and carry in their hearts. I’ll present it here for you to think about. Put to the music of Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, it was very inspiring music. I prefer the first two verses that were written by the rather obscure poet, Lloyd Stone, in about 1935. The other stanzas were added at a later time and clearly carry a less universal and more Christian tone that spoil the spirit and message of Stone’s poem. Therefore I’ll give you only the first two stanzas and attach the final three as only an after-thought.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country's skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

If you ‘d like to hear the hymn sung, go to this version by Joan Baez. Below are the other three verses that I think detract from the extraordinary message of the first two.

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a prayer that peace transcends in every place;
and yet I pray for my beloved country --
the reassurance of continued grace:
Lord, help us find our one-ness in the Savior,
in spite of differences of age and race.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth's kingdoms,
thy kingdom come, on earth, thy will be done;
let Christ be lifted up 'til all shall serve him,
and hearts united, learn to live as one:
O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations,
myself I give thee -- let thy will be done.


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