This hymn, y’all.
First – we’re already into the Peace section; Labor and Learning was short, sweet, and to the point.
Second – I am not Finnish. No where in our known genealogy is there any Scandinavian blood; we’re all German and English, with a dollop of Dutch and a dash of Irish. Yet this tune, from a longer symphonic piece by Finnish composer Jean Sebelius and considered if not the national anthem then at least Finland’s most important song, makes me weep from its beauty and connection to the ineffable.
In our hymnal, this tune appears twice – with these lyrics, by Lloyd Stone, written as a prayer of peace – and later in our journey as We Would Be One. And every time we use it, whichever lyrics we use, I am literally moved to tears. Because not only does the tune reach something deep in our souls, the lyrics reach something deep in our hearts: the call of peace, the call of humanity.
I sometimes think of this lyric as the First Principle on the national/global level. If we affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, we must also affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every nationality – with the important caveat, of course, that governments regularly deny and oppress and stir up nationalistic jingoism in egotistical shows of empty bravado. (I’m lookin’ at you, 45.)
But this… this is the vision, the prayer, the call for peace.
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.