STLT#94, What Is This Life

“Sweet” is the word I would use to describe this hymn.

Sweet lyrics, sweet sentiment, sweet tune. It’s not saccharine sweet, but rooted, old timey sound and wisdom sweet. It’s the kind of tune (another shape note tune, this time from the collection Missouri Harmony) you’d hope to hear played by a guitar, or maybe a violin, or perhaps even a banjo as you walked past a creek from that little cabin tucked in the woods up in the distance.

I don’t have a lot more to say about this sweet little hymn – except maybe a reminder of its message: take time to notice. Take time to meditate. Take time for spiritual practice. Take time.

What is this life if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare —
no time to stand beneath the boughs
and stare as long as sheep or cows;

No time to see, when woods we pass,
where squirrels hide their nuts in grass —
no time to see, in broad daylight,
streams full of stars, like stars at night;

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
and watch her feet, how they can dance.
A poor life this if, full of care,
we have no time to stand and stare.


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