As I’m going through this section, entitled The Life of Integrity, I realize I use (or should use) these hymns a lot – and somehow am not at all getting bored, like I have with other sections of our hymnal. (I’m lookin’ at you, Christmas…)
It’s not surprising, as our Universalism calls us to love the hell out of this world. And as I scan back through a few years of services, it seems that one of these hymns from this category shows up easily 75% of the time. I admit I am feeling a little guilty for using them too much. But maybe they are filled with the messages most worth repeating – they say we only really preach one sermon, after all.
What I like about this hymn (and the others in this section) is that there’s both an openness and an urgency to the message – that liberal religion has not just benefit but also responsibility:
With heart and mind and voice and hand may we this time and place transcend
to make our purpose understood: a mortal search for mortal good,
a firm commitment to the goal of justice, freedom, peace for all.
A mind that’s free to seek the truth; a mind that’s free in age and youth
to choose a path no threat impedes, wherever light of conscience leads.
Our martyrs died so we could be a church where every mind is free.
A heart that’s kind, a heart whose search makes Love the spirit of our church,
where we can grow, and each one’s gift is sanctified, and spirits lift,
where every door is open wide for all who choose to step inside.
These lyrics are by Alicia Carpenter (commissioned for a Service of the Living Tradition), who also wrote Just As Long As I Have Breath; it is any wonder these two make such a good pair? More than once they have bracketed a service – this one to welcome and set the stage, the other to send out with a call to action.
Regarding the tune – we’ve sung it before, awkwardly I think, in The Winds of Change. But the German tune Mach’s Mit Mir, Gott works extremely well here. I’d love to hear a recast in a different time signature, or played with a swing, because it can get a bit stodgy; perhaps a 6/4 (my new favorite time signature) would help it out? Lord, please send me an accompanist who can come over with a keyboard every day and play hymns with me (and maybe bring coffee)… that’s not too much to ask, is it?
The image is from UU World’s Flickr page – of Rev. Cheryl Walker preaching at the 2017 Service of the Living Tradition, asking us to decide if we’re trying to make a name or make a difference. I was honored to be one of the many on stage, recognized for the transitions in our ministries.