STLT#131, Love Will Guide Us

Depending on how it’s played, I either love this hymn or hate it. There’s no inbetween.

Because if it’s played square, and especially if it’s played square and slow, it’s like a zombie – dead but still going. And when the music is zombielike, the lyrics become saccharine and bitter in the mouth.

But when it’s played with energy and syncopation and soul, when it evokes good old gospel music, when there’s room for harmony and improvisation and attention, it soars. The lyrics are good, and real, and positive. It’s Universalism’s call – change the world with your love. And the truth is, as I listen to an imaginary gospel choir singing an as yet unwritten choral arrangement in my head, I am moved to refocus on love, despite the hard nights we’ve experienced.

There’s not much more to say. It’s a familiar hymn to most UUs, and I suspect – depending on their experience – it’s either beloved or reviled.

Love will guide us, peace has tried us,
hope inside us will lead the way
on the road from greed to giving.
Love will guide us through the hard night.

If you cannot sing like angels,
if you cannot speak before thousands,
you can give from deep within you.
You can change the world with your love.

Love will guide us, peace has tried us,
hope inside us will lead the way
on the road from greed to giving.
Love will guide us through the hard night.

One final note: the tune was named Olympia, after Olympia Brown, the first woman to be fully ordained in America, in the Universalist church. Like many before her and many since:, she was warned; an explanation was given; nevertheless, she persisted.

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