My pastor, friend, and colleague in blogging, the Rev. Rocky Supinger, wrote powerfully in this post about a visitor from Dayton. She was with us at church in Chicago on Sunday, not in Dayton, but she was grateful that we acknowledged the pain after events in her home city.
The post got me thinking about another way the pain could be expressed -- in a hymn we didn't happen to sing on Sunday, but that I've sung since. The tune is called Abbot's Leigh, and I recall reading that it was written in Great Britain during World War II.
The words that taught me to love this tune are under the title "God is Love." I'm writing them from memory, but I remember that this is the last verse:
"God is love, and love enfolds us,
all the world in one embrace.
With unfailing grasp, God holds us,
ev'ry child of ev'ry race.
And when human hearts are breaking
under sorrow's iron rod,
Then we find that self-same aching
deep within the heart of God."
My reading and research tells me that it was written in 1941 in Britain, for a congregation that wanted to keep singing "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken," but objected to the standard hymn tune for those words. I don't blame them; that tune, known as the Austrian Hymn, is the German national anthem. I can see why that wasn't popular in the U.K. in 1941.
I don't pretend to have a solution to the madness. I just wanted to get these beautiful words out there and share my friend's observations.
Words must keep meaning something.