STLT#303, We Are the Earth Upright and Proud

I can’t write – I’m still giggling about the fact that every time I start singing this, even with lyrics in front of me, I start singing the English lyrics of A Mighty Fortress Is our God. And then getting mad when ‘in us its rivers flowing’ doesn’t rhyme with “on earth is not an equal” until I realize I sang the wrong words.

Seriously, though, I can’t get the Lutheran hymn out of my head enough to focus on Kenneth Patton’s lyrics.

Which, as is typical of his writing, quite good, quite inspiring, and oh so Unitarian Universalist.

We are the earth upright and proud; in us the earth is knowing.
Its winds are music in our mouths, in us its rivers flowing.
The sun is our hearthfire; warm with the earth’s desire,
and with its purpose strong, we sing earth’s pilgrim song;
in us the earth is growing.

We lift our voices, fill the skies with our exultant singing.
We dedicate our minds and hearts, to order, beauty bringing.
Our labor is our strength; our love will win at length;
our minds will find the ways to live in peace and praise.
Our day is just beginning.

I like its groundedness – not we are on the earth, but we are the earth. It’s eco-theologian Sallie MacFeague’s “we are earthlings”… it’s the interdependent web of all existence reminding us we’re part of it too. It’s an amazing set of lyrics.

I just can’t get past wanting to sing the words of the old Lutheran hymn. And it’s such a unique meter (8.7.8.7.6.6.6.7) that no other hymn tune has – so to sing it differently means one of our composers has to get busy. And I kinda hope they do – because I don’t use this hymn precisely because it’s set to Ein’ Feste Burg, and I would dissolve into uncontrollable giggles if I did, and that probably wouldn’t have the effect I would be going for.

 

 

3 Comments

  1. I agree about the giggles–and I’ve had to play this thing for more than one U-U congregation–but also, when I think of the Norwegians, during World War II, surrounding the Trondheim Cathedral and singing “Ein feste Burg ” (in Norwegian translation, I presume) to the German soldiers also surrounding the Cathedral more than giggles come to the surface–in short, “Ein feste Burg” has such a history and so many associations (in the case of Trondheim good, but in other cases good and bad) that giggles are just a start

    and I have one other objection–I cannot tolerate the word “earth” on those two eighth notes, the second of which (and almost all of the first) turns into one ugly “r”

  2. I get the giggles because it is oh so “We are the PINNACLE OF CREATION!” Geez, Ken, does humanism have to mean human supremacy? How about a little humility? (We are the earth = humus, the root of “humility.”) To my ear, these lyrics reek of the “We are the universe made conscious” stuff that would be lovely and true if it did not always seem to assert “We are the ONLY conscious things in the universe”–as if the people saying it had never taken a good look at the creatures who are also the earth, swimming and flying and swinging through the trees all around us. Nope, if they don’t walk on two legs, upright and proud, they aren’t quite of the first rank.

    But you are making me appreciate it more. Maybe I can sing it without giggling sometime.

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