Of course this is the hymn today, as I set out on 14-hour trip home from SUUSI that was called Blessed Is the Path. And in fact, I’m a little surprised no one used this in their worship this week… except that it’s probably a bit stodgier than most of what we sing here.
Yet it is a favorite hymn of mine, one I find myself using (or wanting to use) a lot. Perhaps it’s because I talk about our journeys a lot – all kinds of journeys, from personal journeys to collective, from spiritual to intellectual, from historical to prophetic. Unitarian Universalist Mark DeWolfe’s lyrics are simply gorgeous:
Sing out praises for the journey, pilgrims, we, who carry on,
searchers in the soul’s deep yearnings, like our forebears in their time.
We seek out the spirit’s wholeness in the endless human quest.
Look inside, your soul’s the kindling of the hearth fire pilgrims knew.
Find the spirit, always restless, find it in each mind and heart.
Touch and hold that ancient yearning, kindling for a newfound truth.
Stand we now upon the threshold, facing futures yet unknown.
Hearth behind us, wayside hostel built by those who knew wild roads.
Guard we e’er their sacred embers carried in our minds and hearts.
An aside – while training friend and colleague Elizabeth Assenza to take over as a Union chapel minister, we giggled a lot at “forebears” because it didn’t scan to our eyes correctly. We wanted it to say “forebearers” because we weren’t quite sure four bears were quite up to the task.
And now you will never look at that word the same way again. Our work here is done.
Now back to the hymn – a lush lyric set to a lovely if somewhat squarely notated – and thus played – tune by the English composer Henry Purcell. I wonder if it would make it drag if done in a 6/8 time signature; it certainly would dance a bit more. Or maybe we find a new tune.
But no matter. I like the Purcell, and I don’t know why I’m stuck on trying to change it, but, well, there it is.
Bottom line: this is a favorite of mine, and it’s a good, useful hymn. I’m grateful for it.