If ever there was a time to remind ourselves where our holy church is, it’s now. And this is just the right hymn to show us – if we allow it to.
Sure, some might find the tune old and stodgy – it is, after all, an old stodgy hymn from the 1551 English psalter, so it’s been around a while. But sometimes the old tunes are the best – and while I am resisting the urge to again wax poetic about the 16th/17th century Anglican devotional literature and music, I will say that they were on to something with these tunes. And I beg of you not to let a 500-year old tune keep you from this one, because it’s got some terrific lyrics for our – and any – time.
Lyricist Edwin Henry Wilson was a Unitarian minister and the first editor of The New Humanist magazine, helping to shape American religious humanism in the first half of the last century. And here’s something cool: his placing the church firmly amongst us humans is not only good humanist theology, it’s good process theology – it’s in us, it’s in our relationships, it’s in our actions, its not in who we are but in what we do.
Where is our holy church?
Where race and class unite
as equal persons in the search
for beauty, truth, and right.
Where is our holy writ?
Where’er a human heart
a sacred torch of truth has lit,
by inspiration taught.
Where is our holy One?
A mighty host respond;
the people rise in every land
to break the captive’s bond.
Where is our holy land?
Within the human soul,
wherever free minds truly seek
with character the goal.
Where is our paradise?
In aspiration’s sight,
wherein we hope to see
arise ten thousand years of right.
More than ever, we need to remember that it starts here, with us, and that our call is indeed to unite all as equal; to break the captives’ bonds; to build principled, ethical character; to aspire to the beloved community; to free our minds and souls to touch that which some call the Divine.
It’s on every one of us to create this holy church, because it is us.
(The photo was taken by Ninie, a contributor at InterfaceLIFT, of a chapel in Yosemite on Christmas Day. )
The picture is beautiful and fits so well with the hymn. Nice job!