Hubby and I went to a church today where sung was one of the — what’s the right word? — most darling hymns out there. Almost as cute as “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” which wins the prize. Normally I’m not keen on it because it’s rarely sung with the verve it needs, but there were a posse of college-aged baritones in the back of the nave that gave it some umph.
But “Earth and All Stars” is really a 1968 modernist updating of the Benedicite, opera omnia, which is itself the larger part of that most variously named books in the Apocrypha, or more accurately one of the Greek additions to Daniel. (In NRSV) I’ve seen it called Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews or the Song of the Three Holy Children. I’ll stick to calling it the Song of the Three.
But back to the hymn. It was written by Herbert F. Brokering, and the gist is that everything praises the Lord with “a new song!” The you get to the fourth stanza, my favorite:
Engines and steel,
Loud boiling test tubes,
Sing to the Lord —
A new song!
Limestone and beams
Loud building workers
. . . .
You get the idea. I like it because devotion to God is cast as universal, and neither divorced nor alien to the works of the world. “Knowledge and truth, loud sounding wisdom” (in their praise) cap off the hymn.
It makes me happy, since piety has become so encapsulated, purified, and gated — both from the Left and Right in their own ways — in recent decades. That’s a nice thing I’ll always have to say for the neo-Pagans: they don’t get caught in such futile dichotomies. Neither should Christians.
The hymn is still under copyright, but is easy to find: