STLT#128, For All That Is Our Life

I have learned that when I particularly like or dislike a contemporary hymn, I stir up some level of controversy, usually on Facebook (although some of it shows up in the comments here too). I don’t like Bring Many Names, but you would have thought I’d killed a basket of puppies when I said so. But I weathered that, and I’m still friends with the folks who disagreed with me, so here we go, once more into the breach.

I really like this hymn. The caveat, of course, is that it must be played well and at a decent tempo. Played badly and no one knows where or when to sing. Played too slow, and it makes absolutely no sense. But played well and at a good tempo (76 bpm is recommended – it could go to about 84), and it’s wonderful.

First of all, I do love the tune – I don’t know exactly what it is that works for me, but it does. It has a hint of ‘the composer listened to Godspell and Pippin a lot’, and as someone who also listened to Godspell and Pippin a lot, it makes sense. But I know it also works to sing – not too high or too low, interesting phrases that remain easy to sing, and a distinct lack of stodginess.

But it is the words that really captured me today; it is a song of thanksgiving – but not a rosy thanks to that unseen Divine. Rather, it’s a gritty, real thanks – as much to each other and ourselves as anything. And it’s the third verse that really caught me today – ‘for each new thing we learn, for fearful hours that pass’ – in the horrifying Gish Gallop that is this new administration, we must still give praise and thanks – because (a) we do learn from sorrows, pains, and failures and (b) it is these that often motivate our work and service (especially when we can see another’s woe), which we also give praise and thanks for.

For all that is our life we sing our thanks and praise;
for all life is a gift which we are called to use
to build the common good and make our own days glad.

For needs which others serve, for services we give,
for work and its rewards, for hours of rest and love;
we come with praise and thanks for all that is our life.

For sorrow we must bear, for failures, pain, and loss,
for each new thing we learn, for fearful hours that pass:
we come with praise and thanks for all that is our life.

For all that is our life we sing our thanks and praise;
for all life is a gift which we are called to use
to build the common good and make our own days glad.

A beautiful, grounding song of praise and thanksgiving. It makes my own day glad.

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