That time I remembered my patrilineal ancestors were Lutherans…

Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices;
who from our parents’ arms has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
the one eternal God, whom earth and heaven adore,
for thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

While my parents were Unitarians, Mom grew up in the Anglican church, and Dad grew up a Lutheran. And Mom’s first husband was the son of a Lutheran minister,  I dated a Lutheran minister for a while, and two of my closest friends from seminary are Lutheran… so there’s something Lutheran/attracted to Lutheran in my DNA.

I don’t think about that a lot, but singing today’s hymn brought it to mind. This very German song, with these very Lutheran lyrics.

It’s probably surprising to many modern Unitarian Universalists that there are congregations among us who sing this, but I bet there are some – those who are comfortable with God language, those who embrace a transcendent, omnipresent Divine. And some days, in my own personal theology, I’m totally down with that. In my Universalist view of process theology, it makes sense some days to thank a Creator God who is involved in and should be thanked for this amazing creation.

And for those who might argue against this one, I would remind you that this is pretty much the same theology found in For the Beauty of the Earth – just with the G word and a little more explicit greater-than language.

I like it. My Lutheran DNA likes it.

This hymn brings me joy.

For the beauty of the earth, for the splendor of the skies,
for the love which from our birth over and around us lies:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind’s delight,
for the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,
hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human care, sister, brother, parent, child,
for the kinship we all share, for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Source of all, to thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

This is probably in my top five favorite hymns ever.

I loved it as a child, I loved it especially when I learned a solo version during my holy roller days, I loved it even more when I saw that the Unitarian Universalists changed “Lord” to “Source.” (I’m not sure why “glory” was changed to “splendor” – word allergies, I suppose.) I love it every time I hear it, just about every way it’s played (I once heard someone play it like a dirge. It was offensive.), I find myself singing it to myself. I have to be careful to not choose it as an opening hymn too often.

For me, this is a celebration of life – because for me, life isn’t just about the earth and its inhabitants. Life is about our spirits, our souls, our connection to something bigger and greater than us. Even if you don’t believe in God, it’s hard to believe we are completely isolated from each other – we are connected, and we constantly find ways to connect, whether through families and tribes, nations and states, highways and railways, telegraphs and telephones, the internet. We are connected to something greater, even if it is just our collective selves.

This hymn remembers that we’re connected to something greater than ourselves – Source of All. And it’s good, and appropriate that we sing a hymn of praise to that something greater. It’s what helps us find meaning, helps us find purpose, helps us be fully human and fully earthlings.

And in the praising, I find peace. I find comfort, I find assurance.

On a musical note (see what I did there?), I really wish everyone would take the breath, as marked, in the chorus. It’s “Source of all, to thee we raise this, [BREATH] our hymn of grateful praise.” Please, if you read this, breathe where you’re supposed to. It’s actually more meaningful and beautiful.