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Ancient Words

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“All Creatures of Our God and King,” is one of my all time favorite hymns. The words are beautiful, but the other thing I love is that it’s so old. The words were penned by St. Francis of Assisi around 1225. The music was added much later.

When I sing it I feel connected to something ancient, something solid, something mysterious. I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes I think we imagine Christianity was born in America, with American values at its core – like its some new discovery in which we get to define the parameters and rules. But it’s not.

It’s as old as time. Older, actually. It’s full of wonder and mystery. There are many things we don’t understand or can’t comprehend. That’s the nature of the thing.

In times of tragedy and confusion, I think it’s good to remember that.

We don’t have answers for everything. There isn’t always a good reason why things happen. When we attempt to offer an explanation, or say, “Everything happens for a reason,” that’s us wanting to feel like we have some measure of control.

We want to feel certain, to understand, so that we can figure out how to keep ourselves safe from tragedy.

We believe that if we can just answer the why question, we can take necessary precautions. Or maybe things won’t feel so random and out of control.

That doesn’t really work, in reality. There’s always an exception, there are always variables and outliers. It can be scary.

But I trust God. Without explanations – which wouldn’t actually ease the pain, anyway – I trust in a good God. An ancient God. A mysterious God.

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

(These are some of the stanzas of All Creatures of Our God and King, most of which are not typically sung, unfortunately)

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