Friday, April 4, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.

Today of the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Episcopal calendar of saints. It is also the fortieth anniversary of his assassination.

Dr. King's favorite hymn was reported to be Precious Lord, take my hand by Thomas Dorsey, written in 1932. I did not know until today that the tune was actually adapted by Dorsey from an earlier tune by George N. Allen called MAITLAND, first published in 1844.

Another appropriate hymn for today was written by the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, an activist for abolition.

O pure reformers! not in vain
Your trust in humankind;
The good which bloodshed could not gain,
Your peaceful zeal shall find.

The truths you urge are borne abroad
By every wind and tide;
The voice of nature and of God
Speaks out upon your side.

The weapons which your hands have found
Are those which heav'n has wrought:
Light, truth, and love -- your battleground,
The free, broad field of thought.

Press on! and if we may not share
The glory of your fight,
We'll ask at least, in earnest prayer,
That God will bless the right.

John Greenleaf Whittier, 1843; alt.
Tune: AZMON (C.M.)
Carl G. Glaser, 1828; arr. Lowell Mason, 1839

I chose AZMON for its vigor, but an alternate tune might be MARTYRDOM. A different mood, but still appropriate.

I know people will be singing today in honor of Dr. King and his work.

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