Holding Our History in a Hymn

Sunday, October 29, 2023 @ 9:00 am & 11:30 am

In this service we will explore the music and message of hymn #119, “Once to Every Soul and Nation.” James Russell Lowell, the son of a Unitarian Minister and a man whom UU’s claim as their own, wrote the source material in 1845. As adapted for Singing the Living Tradition in 1993, the hymn serves as a social gospel and inspirational call to action, albeit for indeterminate ends. We will discover that the thousand-word poem from which the hymn was adapted is more pointed. The music, written by Thomas John Williams, grabs us from the start and won’t let go. The experience of singing this hymn with feeling calls on us to define our own “truth,” which is good, and “falsehood,” which is evil, and then to act – somehow — on that discovery. Knowing the original “strife” to which Lowell is referring helps explain the passion and resolve behind the words we sing today.