Welcome to Pinocchio’s favorite hymn.
I can’t deny making Diana wonder what this hymn practice as actually done to my sanity, because I am sitting next to her on the couch, drinking coffee and cackling manically as I ponder why we ever doubted that children might not be real, unless we are surrounded by Geppetto’s marionettes.
I mean, I get where lyricist Carl Seaburg is going – he’s trying to say that children have little pretense and experience the world openly and honestly. But “real” is just awkward and frankly stopped me in my tracks.
Odd lyric aside, this is a lovely piece. The tune – the Sussex Carol – gets a nice not-at-all-Christmas-related treatment here (fyi, another gorgeous Ralph Vaughan Williams setting), and yes, I could see this being used at Yuletide anyway, when we adults get so overwhelmed and jaded by the commercialization and possible sadness of the season. But it also speaks to that beginner’s mind, that childlike wonder that we all long for.
I seek the spirit of a child, the child who meets life naturally,
the child who sings the world alive, and greets the morning sun with glee.
Children are real beyond all art. May I see: Joy’s a gift to our heart.
I seek the freedom of a child, a child who loves instinctively,
who lights our day with just a smile, and shines that light on all we see.
Children are real beyond all fears. May I see: Hope’s a gift to our tears.
I seek the wonder of a child, a child who sees delightfully,
now clowns in cloud, now gold in sun — imaginations true and free.
Children are real beyond all lies. May I see: Faith’s a gift to our eyes.
If I can get past giggling about “children are real” I could see using it.
But it might be a while.