O Life that maketh all things new,
the blooming earth, our thoughts within,
our pilgrim feet, wet with thy dew,
in gladness hither turn again.
From hand to hand the greeting flows,
from eye to eye the signals run,
from heart to heart the bright hope glows,
the seekers of the light are one:
One in the freedom of the truth,
one in the joy of paths untrod,
one in the soul’s perennial youth,
one in the larger thought of God;
The freer step, the fuller breath,
the wide horizon’s grander view,
the sense of life that knows no death,
the Life that maketh all things new.
This hymn feels extraordinarily aspirational to me today. It’s been a hard, heavy, trauma-laden week, thanks to our national flirtation with the collective Id. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of truth, or freedom, or joy, or any space at all to have larger, wider, fuller thoughts about anything, let alone the Divine.
Yet here it is, this project’s gift to me today, lyrics by 19th century poet Samuel Longfellow, set to a familiar hymn tune many might know as “I Know My Redeemer Lives” – which in itself is similarly aspirational and hopeful. Easy and comfortable to sing, cheerful but not sentimental, strong but not defiant.
O Life that maketh all things new … not worn, not reused, not tired. New.
the blooming earth, our thoughts within … even as the seasons cycle through, so will – or should – our thoughts.
our pilgrim feet, wet with thy dew … we are always searching, seeking, moving forward.
in gladness hither turn again … and thank god Life DOES make all things new, because we need it to be that way, for our sanity. We need to be refreshed, renewed, revived, and clearly – at least today – reminded that this does happen. It does get better. It does get easier. Today’s heaviness and worry will morph and change and sometimes become harder and sometimes turn into joy, but Life is here to remind us that it all happens to all of us and there is newness always because that is the very nature of Life.
And here’s the truth: I felt a little better after I sang this. Not because I sang (although singing does feel good physically and emotionally), but because I sang this song despite feeling rather worn and emotionally exhausted. I feel a little better because I caught a glimpse of the aspirational. Sometimes the aspirational feels too precious. And sometimes – like today – the aspirational is a balm.