Weekly Devotion 11/15
O God of Earth and Altar
O God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry
Our earthly leaders falter, our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide;
Take not your thunder from us, but take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches, from lies of pen and tongue,
From all the easy speeches that soothe us in our wrong,
From sale and profanation of honor and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation, deliver us, O Lord!
Awaken us to action and forge us into one,
Defying sect and faction; O God, your will be done!
Oppressive systems snare us; our apathies increase.
Great God, in mercy spare us for justice and for peace!
-“O God of Earth and Altar” by G.K Chesterton 1906 vs. 1&2, Jane Parker Huber 1985, vs. 3
Sunday while singing this hymn the words really struck me. Rarely, do we encounter a person nowadays who does not feel that our world is a scary place. The words of this hymn reflected very much of my perception of our current times. We have sung this hymn before. Yet, the words grabbed my attention this time for their clarity of truth.
I decided to check into its background believing it was a more recent hymn. The original hymn dates to 1906 and the third verse to 1985. Both were penned long before anything in our current world was happening. The words, like many poems, were reflections of what was occurring in the world for the writers at their time. Such is the profundity of such works – their timelessness.
The emotion expressed in the words are being lifted to God in the same manner the Psalmists do repeatedly. Those times when life does not make sense. Those times when the world seems awry. Those times when we know to our very souls God will see us through. Many people have much to say about our current times. Some are even hoping it is the End Times or the Left Behind times – it is not. Humanity has been in times of stubbornness, hatred and violence before. Evidently, we forgot to learn something as here we are again. We do well to cry out to God and seek some hope and guidance for our living. We do well to pray without ceasing.
We also do well to offer gratitude for artists like G.K. Chesterton and Jane Parker Huber for giving us words to sing and soothe our souls. We can offer gratefulness for prophets and leaders who have not been brainwashed and give us words and hope to inspire our faithful living in chaotic times. Psalm 121 professes, “I look to the hills from where will my help come? my help comes from the Lord the maker of heaven and earth.”
The One who makes us is the One who hears us. The One who hears us responds with justice, mercy and love even now. Just like God has always done.