I don’t know if it’s still true, but I remember in high school learning a bit about quantum physics – enough at least to know that physicists at the time weren’t sure if the universe is made of particles or waves. (Google suggests that there’s now an uncomfortable acceptance of a duality, but that’s a mind-blowing thought for another day.) Back then, the research fell victim to confirmation bias – if scientists were looking for a particle, they saw a particle; if they were looking for a wave, they found a wave.
I think the same is true for this song. Are you looking for humanism? It’s here. Looking for God? Yep. Looking for a song about the interdependent web? Gotcha covered. Fourth principle too. Looking for first source? Fifth source? Sixth source? Yep, yep, yep. Oh, and do you want a bit of process theology? Howdy!
Far beyond the grasp of hands,
or light to meet the eye,
past the reaches of the mind,
There find the key to nature’s harmony
in an architecture so entwined.
Like the birds whose patterns grace the sky
and carry all who join in love expanding,
The message of peace will rise in flight
taking the weight of the world upon its wings,
In the oneness of ev’rything.
Peace is in the dance of trees,
who stir before the first
breath of wind is yet perceived.
Trust in the song, becoming one with the dance,
and all mysteries can be believed.
Songs of lives long past that touch our own
are written in the earth evergiving,
And now to maintain the harmony
gives to us all lives worth living,
For the oneness of ev’rything.
Still we seek to find a truth
that we might understand
and reduce to terms defined
Vast and immeasurable time and space
all so overwhelmingly designed.
Oh, passing years just might I know the faith
that winters in the heart to be reborn in spring.
To hear and to feel the pulse of life
enters my soul as a song to sing,
Of the oneness of ev’rything.
There are many wonderful Jim Scott songs in our hymnals – from the very familiar Gather the Spirit to the hardly sung Tradition Held Fast, along with others we’ve sung/will sing. But I think this is my favorite; its lyrics are rich (I mean, how many times do you get to sing “vast and immeasurable time and space”?), the melody is interesting and easy to sing, and while it seems long, it’s worth it. (I should write about why we expect hymns to be so short when we don’t expect songs on the radio to be.)
The melody, while not super-easy, is much more intuitive than some of his other pieces, and I’ve never seen a congregation just not get it with a good song leader. The key to singing this in our congregations is not dragging. It’s written in a lush 2/2 with one beat = half note – 64 bpm, which is about right. Any slower and it’s just deadly, and definitely not the song Jim wrote (which you should totally listen to here).
3 responses to “STJ#1052, The Oneness of Everything”
This is one of my favorites.
[…] I’m on the fence about this being a congregational sing, because of two things: while The Oneness of Everything is considered long for a hymn, this one is actually really long and is hard to cut down without […]
Tangential question – do you actually have a reason why we expect hymns to be short while songs on the radio aren’t? I’d be interested in that!