An Alternative, Christian, Patriotic Song of Peace

An Alternative, Christian, Patriotic Song of Peace October 30, 2012

a song of peace, especially appropriate as so many on the East Coast of the US are struggling in the wake of the mighty storm…

During election season, there is often a lot of talk of American exceptionalism (“this is the greatest country on the face of the earth!”) that sounds a lot like arrogance to those from other places.  I discovered this song in the wonderful Rise Up Singing songbook, and have sung it since with fellow mission co-workers, as it is found in the newest Presbyterian hymnal.

There’s nothing wrong with loving one’s country because it is one’s own country–but I think it is always important to remember that God is the God who welcomes people from all nations to the feasting table.

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 sacred shrine.

But other hearts in other lands are beating,

With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,

And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.

But other lands have sunlight too and clover,

And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.

O hear my song, O God of all the nations,

A song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;

May peace abound where strife has raged so long;

That each may seek to love and build together,

A world united, righting every wrong;

A world united in its love for freedom,

Proclaiming peace together in one song.

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 thy will be done.

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  • Tim

    Great reminder, Rachel. I once tried to explain this concept to a friend of mine, that everyone thinks highly of their country. His response essentially was that while the others may think their countries are great, Americans are the only ones who really do live in the best country in the world. I sighed and changed the subject.

  • Well put. I struggle with what you discuss in your first paragraph: holding a critique of American exceptionalism ideologically and yet really enjoying aspects of the culture I was raised in. Thanks for sharing this bit of hymnological wisdom.

  • dad

    What really strikes me as curious is how the most fervent exceptionalists I know are almost always also the least tolerant of immigrants. How can they not see that one of the key factors in our success as a nation has been our cultural diversity? The genius of America has always been our ability to absorb, transform, and so often improve upon the contributions of different cultural traditions.

    The older I get the more thankful I am for the privilege of having been raised in Flushing, NY in the 1960s and 1970s. I went to school and played with kids from countries many Americans couldn’t find on a map, and of course never realized that this was unusual.

    What makes America great? A Haitian ordering Chinese take-out from a Taiwanese, neither of whom can speak more than 30 words of English yet. The Pakistani at the convenience store, greeting his Guatemalan customer in broken Spanish.

    You, carrying not only the genes, but also the histories and cultural influences of Ashkenazi Rabbis, Irish horse-trainers, and Quebecois carpenters.

    • Tim

      And you’d think this would be more obvious as this country grows with more and more countries supplying our growing population, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Jingoism is alive and well in some quarters.

      • Rachel Stone

        Tim, why do I get the feeling that you and my dad would really get along? If I ever manage to drag him to California again, we’ll get some Cal-Mex food and hang out! 🙂

      • Tim

        That would be awesome, Rachel. Mexican, sushi, whatever, we have tons of great places to eat. (It’s probably no surprise that I would know that, huh.) If you and the fam ever do come to northern California, we’d love to meet up!

  • dad

    Sounds like a plan. My vote’s for Mexican.