Growing up down South, the 4th was a rite of passage for the summer. It was right around that fourth that we’d start harvesting large ripe tomatoes (that were quickly converted into delicious sandwiches), watermelons so ripe the juice would drip down on my tanned chest (the best watermelon eating was done without a shirt), and heavenly sweet corn that was slathered with butter and gnawed off the cob. But up here, the corn ain't quite waist high, tomatoes still have a few weeks to go, and the only melons available have been imported. Still, it’s a time to celebrate our nation’s birthday and ideals.
I’m a bit of a heretic. I’d like us to change our national anthem to something that can be sung by non-musical buffoons like me. My choice would be “God of the Ages,” the National Hymn, which was penned as “God of our Fathers” in 1876 for our nation’s centennial. It was originally sung to the tune “Russian Hymn” but it got its own tune even before the Bolshevik Revolution. Personally, I like the newer version, “God of the Ages,” which better focuses on the eternal nature of God and not just on our ancestors. This past Sunday, in the church I usually attend, this hymn was sung. A pipe organ, grand piano and trumpet provided the music. It was moving to join with the voices of others, giving thanks to God for the blessings we enjoy.
1. God of the ages, whose almighty hand
leads forth in beauty all the starry band
of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
our grateful songs before thy throne arise.
2. Thy love divine hath led us in the past;
in this free land with thee our lot is cast;
be thou our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay,
thy Word our law, thy paths our chosen way.
3. From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
be thy strong arm our ever sure defense;
thy true religion in our hearts increase;
thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.
4. Refresh thy people on their toilsome way;
lead us from night to never-ending day;
fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
and glory, laud, and praise be ever thine.
Be sure to keep AI and others who are deployed in hostile areas in your thoughts and prayers today and every day. Have a happy Fourth of July!