Wednesday, February 18, 2009


While gathering my tax information I ran across a transcription I did some time ago of an article written by one of my G-G-Grandfather's pupils who became a teacher. It ends with a line or two that garnered my attention and upon searching I found it was a portion from a hymn.

Words: James R. Lowell, in the Boston Courier, December 11, 1845. Lowell wrote these words as a poem protest­ing America’s war with Mexico.

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.-

The reason I am posting it is because I am pondering on the syncretistic sentiments that can slip in and pollute an otherwise good work- there is a sense in which each line rings true- but we must ponder the meaning of whether "time makes ancient good uncouth"- in what way and context? I also decry the sentiment that God is watching from on high-- that is true in one sense but by the implication God is at a distance--not sharing in the midst of the shadow with us. Such is the stuff that has brought us where we are today.

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