STLT#316, Tradition Held Fast

The last thing I want to do is write a blog post about a song entitled “tradition held fast” on the morning after a spontaneous alt-right march encircled a church where friends and colleagues were praying in preparation for today’s hate-filled rally in Charlottesville. The march – complete with torches (but no hoods – hate is on full display) – is, to those who support it, all about holding on to tradition – their tradition of racism and hatred and oppression, the last gasp of the harmful and destructive Lost Cause.

So no, I don’t want to talk about tradition.

And yet, this amazing song by Jim Scott is indeed about the ways that OUR traditions – prayer, connection, non-violent protest, interfaith collaboration, trust and belief in our principles – how our traditions will win.

It is an affirmation, to be sure. But this morning, let it also be a prayer for strength, for good, for affirmation. May this be our prayer for those who are holding strong as counter protestors to the hate on full display in Charlottesville.

Tradition held fast through varied time and place,
the raising of voices, the touching of hands.
Circle of spirit, council of grace,
all faith finds expression ‘cross countless lands.

Freed from the worldly burdens that we bear,
released in this time of forgiving, healing, sharing.
Lifted by the power of our communion,
held in the warmth of a common caring.

Now though we turn to separate lives, renewed,
our circle of peace will not break as we part.
Though form is gone as we conclude,
through us will it open to every fate of life
and every open heart.


(I’m sorry that I can’t find a recording of this song. If someone has a link, please share.)

4 responses to “STLT#316, Tradition Held Fast”

  1. Re: Tradition Held Fast. I’ll be asking Jim permission to record his song for a virtual service with my choir. I’ve made an SATB version for us to sing. Please let me know if you’re interested.

    Choir Director, All Souls, UU church, Brattleboro, VT

  2. Just found this version of Tradition Held Fast:


    1. Hi Tom, I’d be delighted for you to use the song. I hope you’d include the intro/interlude that I think it needs.

  3. Hi, Carry on the great work. Here’s a recording of Tradition Held Fast.
    Or here’s the whole CD Gather the Spirit, with a number of UU songs, arranged for choir (and me).
    I called this song Circle of Spirit, but the hymnbook committee decided to call things by their first lines. A questionable decision, but now I call it Tradition Held Fast too. I wrote it with an instrumental intro, and the hymnbook committee cut it. So, the way it’s written in the Hymnbook has always frustrated me a bit, I think it needs that intro/interlude between each verse. Someone on the committee said “People can’t stand there for 8 bars,” I don’t know why not. It’s in cut time,so 8 bars feels like 4 to me. This recording has the interlude. If anyone wants the correct music, contact me at my website,

Support this site

I am an entrepreneurial minister, which means I am a freelancer, and every part of my income comes from the work I do. The Hymn by Hymn Project was and is a labor of love, but I now am incurring increasing costs for hosting the site.

If everyone who visited gave just $5, those costs would be covered in a single week.

Whether you give once or monthly, your generosity will keep Hymn by Hymn free and available to to the tens of thousands of people who benefit from it.

Please support the project!


Learn more about my ministry at The Art of Meaning

Read my thoughts about congregational life at Hold My Chalice