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.

5 responses to “STLT#131, Love Will Guide Us”

  1. Sally Rogers’ original version is in 3/4. Much different sound and feel from the 12/8 arr. in STLT.

  2. The original melody is from the Baptist Hymn, “I Will Guide Thee”. I used the melody and wrote new lyrics to it. The version in the UU hymnal is very square compared to the original. They added a measure at the end of the second line of each verse. HEre is a link to the version I first heard sung by Helen Schneyer:

    1. Sally, thank you SO MUCH for the information! I love Helen Schneyer’s version SO MUCH… now I want to learn the harmonies and sing your lyrics to it.

  3. I love Sally’s and Helen’s versions and how each makes the song their own, and that the form, melody, and lyrics are plastic: moldable to their inspiration. As a pianist from the blues/jazz/gospel tradition, I do this song with really rich harmonies and a rollicking feel. In my fantasy, the congregation is stepping together side to side, as the song rolls forward.

  4. I’ve loved this hymn ever since I first heard it back in the 80’s on Sally’s album of the same name. At our UU church in Nashua NH we had the rare privelege of having her lead our congregation in singing it, even before STLT was published.

    I’ve been trying to track down the first publication of the tune “Olympia” (or at least an early one), but I’m having no luck. has two tunes by that name: one is in STLT and one other recent hymnal; the other, while much older, is a completely different tune.

    Can anyone cite an earlier publication of this tune?

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