I brought my spirit to the sea;
I stood upon the shore.
I gazed upon infinity,
I heard the waters roar.
And then there came a sense of peace,
some whisper calmed my soul.
Some ancient ministry of stars
had made my spirit whole.
I brought my spirit to the trees
that loomed against the sky.
I touched each wand’ring careless breeze
to know if god was nigh.
And then I felt an inner flame that
fiercely burned my tears.
Upright, I rose from bended knee
to meet the asking years.
I am sad to say I have never sung this before – sad because it is beautiful, and touches both lyrically and melodically on that mystery contained in all of existence. It is reverent and mystical and makes me want to take a walk along the Sound.
That it is the fourth hymn tells me of nature’s import to our hymn curators but also to our theology (at least the theology of the early 90s); it places our Transcendentalist forebears in a position of import. And I don’t know who ever sings it – I hope other congregations do, because I’ve never encountered it anywhere, other than in flips through the hymnal on the way to other hymns.
And that’s a shame. I for one want to really learn it and use it, because it speaks deeply, even to my very theist self.
The melody alone has a graceful flow, gentle scales supporting surprising intervals that emphasize the lyric mysticism. And the lyrics, calling us to give in and give over and draw strength from that which is so much bigger than us alone, tangible yet infinite. These lyrics evoke a primordial Yes… “I felt an inner flame that fiercely burned my tears” … “An ancient ministry of stars had made my spirit whole”…. I am surrendered. I am ready. Yes… deep within my soul, every cell and molecule cries ‘yes’ to the ancient mystery.