Posted on July 8, 2019 by Nancy Schmitt
“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these
who are members of my family, you did it to me.” –Matthew 25:40b
We began worship yesterday by singing the first verse of one of my favorite hymns in our United Methodist hymnal titled, ‘This Is My Song.’ The words of the first verse say, “This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine. This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine; but other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”
Lloyd Stone, who was a public school teacher, wrote the first two verses of This Is My Song in 1934. The words were a song of hope for all nations during a brief time of peace between two world wars. I appreciate the author acknowledging love for his own country, but also acknowledging the love others feel around the world for their nations.
In 1939, Georgia Harkness, a Methodist theologian and one of the first women ordained in the Methodist Church, was asked to write a third verse to the hymn to give the song a more distinctively religious flavor. The verse she wrote is a prayer to the “Lord of all earth’s kingdoms,” with words that flow from the Lord’s Prayer. This third verse turns the hymn into a prayer for peace in the midst of the world God loves by saying, “This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms: Thy kingdom come; on earth thy will be done. Let Christ be lifted up till all shall serve him, and hearts united learn to live as one. O hear my prayer, thou God of all the nations; myself I give thee; let they will be done.”
In the past week, we have celebrated our nation’s independence and the freedoms we enjoy in our country. We are also very aware of places still within our own country and the many places in our world where independence and freedom is far from reality. May we continue to offer our prayers and engage together in actions that offer compassion to all God’s people whether those children of God are in our country, at our borders, or in other lands. I invite us to use the verses of This Is May Song to be our prayer as we pursue wisdom and justice that will offer life-giving peace.