STLT#174, O Earth, You Are Surpassing Fair

Remember back when the news was bad and I was singing happy cheerful hope-filled hymns?  It was hard; I struggled to get past my own fears and anger and see the message those songs at those times held for me.

Well, what goes around comes around, I suppose.

Yesterday, I spent the day in Boston with a dear friend, Elizabeth Assenza, who was seeing the Ministerial Fellowship Committee. I got to be her chaplain; she didn’t need a quiet, contemplative experience – she needed me to “extrovert at her” so we gabbed excitedly and told stories in the lead up to her appointment. We also got to meet the legendary Denny Davidoff and spend time talking with Danielle DiBona and others in the room. And yes, Elizabeth is now in preliminary fellowship (yay!). We had a delicious meal in Chinatown, and then went to Kings Chapel, where a shared ancestor – John Winthrop – is buried.

It was a terrific day, made a breath or two easier knowing the ACA repeal vote was not brought to the floor, knowing that at least for a moment, the hard work of justice and the holy work of ministry won the day.

So here I am, having had a good, joyful day, and I wake up to sing this.

O earth, you are surpassing fair, from out your store we’re daily fed,
we breathe your life-supporting air and drink the water that you shed.
Yet greed has made us mar your face, pollute the air, make foul the sea:
the folly of the human race is bringing untold misery.

Our growing numbers make demands that e’en your bounty cannot meet;
starvation stalks through hungry lands and some die hourly in the street.
The Eden-dream of long ago is vanishing before our eyes;
unwise, unheeding, still we go, destroying hopes of paradise.

Has evolution been in vain that life should perish ere its prime?
Or will we from our greed refrain and save our planet while there’s time?
We must decide without delay if we’re to keep our race alive:
the choice is ours, and we must say if we’re to perish or survive.

Our lyricist, John Andrew Storey, is not wrong. And set to Welsh composer Joseph Parry’s tune Merthyr Tyfdil, with its somber, minor tones and lamenting rhythms, it’s well done and much needed. Unlike yesterday’s, that felt difficult as a congregational song (and really, cankerworms?), this has the right combination of melody and lyric to be well sung and thoughtfully internalized.

But wow did this harsh my mood.

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