Our English ethical culturist is back – this time with a more or less decent song of thanksgiving (puzzling placed in the Here and Now section). Good old Perceval Chubb… who once wrote an article stating that Americans ‘have an incapacity for leisure’ and whose O We Believe in Christmas felt pretty empty and apologetic.
I don’t mind this hymn too much. The first three verses are fine, and if you need an unremarkable lyric set to a square Elizabethan tune that is good for a service on gratitude, then this is a perfectly serviceable song.
We lift our hearts in thanks today for all the gifts of life;
and, first, for peace that turns away the enmities of strife.
And, next, the beauty of the earth, its flowers and lovely things,
the spring’s great miracle of birth, with sound of songs and wings.
Then, harvests of its teeming soil in orchard, croft, and field;
but, more, the service and the toil of those who helped them yield.
And, most, the gifts of hope and love, of wisdom, truth, and right,
the gifts that shine like stars above to chart the world by night.
Where I bristle is the fourth verse. “Wisdom, truth and RIGHT”?!? I checked, it’s not a typo. Not in our hymnal nor in the original. I struggle with this – it feels arrogant to me. Maybe I’m over-sensitive to any show of arrogance or ego these days, but this line screams out to me in a way that makes me shudder.
I don’t know what more to say. I don’t love this hymn, largely because it feels dull and uninteresting and a little arrogant. But it’s not utterly offensive, and if it works for you, cool.
Can you say more about what’s arrogant about the gift of “right”? Whatever that means–I interpret it as righteousness, the quality of being able to be right. I can certainly hear the arrogance there, but it doesn’t seem any worse than claiming access to wisdom or truth.
I might have skipped over this hymn a bunch of times because it’s miscategorized–I’d definitely be using it in a service of thanksgiving–but I think I’d pass anyway because it’s kind of boring. The “and then, and then” format evokes a 7th grader’s English essay, and the imagery lacks pizzazz. The last line is lovely, though, with that image of wisdom, truth, and right (?) as guiding stars.