One of the advantages of doing this practice is that I’m beginning to know more hymn tunes by name. I flipped to the page this morning, thought “I don’t know this one” and the looked to the bottom, saw the tune was Mach’s Mit Mir, Gott (which we last sang only last week in With Heart and Mind), and thought “well now, I’m going to think of this tune as a most unusually named humanist hymn.” (Because the title translates to “deal with me, God”…)
As I sang, I thought to myself “huh… this is a good one for a building dedication:
The blessing of the earth and sky upon our friendly house do lie.
The rightness of a master’s art has blessed with grace its every part.
The warmth of many hands is strewn in human blessing on this stone.
The wind upon the lakes and hills performs its native rituals.
The worship of our human toil brings sacrament from sun and soil.
With words and music, we, the earth, in nature’s wonder seek our worth.
Here we restore ancestral dreams enshrined in floor and wall and beam,
a monument wherein we build that their high purpose be fulfilled,
be tool to help our children prove an earth of promise and of love.
And thus it was with a bit of triumph that I turned to Between the Lines and learned that yes, indeed, Kenneth Patton wrote these words for the dedication of the new building of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin.
As that building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the mid-20th century, it’s not surprising that Patton included a line like “the rightness of a master’s art has blessed with grace its every part” or calls the place “a monument” – while he was in some aspects, one of our Unitarian scoundrels, Wright was indeed a master of architecture, and it’s meaningful to have one of his designs in our fold, as it were.
And now, because of that clear association, I’m not sure I would use this hymn outside of a dedication of a building or worship space. I can’t see it beyond its bricks and mortar.
And wow, isn’t that a hell of a metaphor for some of our problems.