Friday, January 16, 2009

Building Proud Towers

On this day in 1920, the first Council Meeting of the League of Nations was held in Paris, as photographed above. Only six days had passed since the Treaty of Versailles, which officially ended hostilities between Germany and the Allies in World War I, had taken effect. The Council was a smaller body than the full League, somewhat like the modern-day Security Council of the United Nations.

Pacifist English poet Laurence Housman wrote this hymn for the newly-formed League of Nations and awarded its copyright to the organization. His hopes for the future of the community of nations seem almost overwhelmed by the problems and challenges he lists, but for the repeated refrain "Thy will be done."

Wisdom eternal, brooding o'er creation,
Spirit of life, which moved ere form was made;
Through the oppression covering every nation,
Strength to our weakness, O be thou our aid:
Thy presence come, O God, thy will be done.

Races and peoples, lo! we stand divided,
And sharing not our griefs, no joy can share;
By wars and tumults love is mocked, derided,
Christ's saving cross no nation yet will bear:
Thy presence come, O God, thy will be done.

Envious of heart, closed-minded and confounded,
Nation by nation still goes unforgiven;
In wrath and fear, by jealousies surrounded,
Building proud towers which shall not reach to heaven:
Thy presence come, O God, thy will be done.

Lust of possession worketh desolations;
There is no meekness in the powers of earth;
Led by no star, the rulers of the nations
Still fail to bring us to the blissful birth.
Thy presence come, O God, thy will be done.

How shall we love thee, holy, hidden Being,
If we love not the world which thou hast made?
Bind us in thine own love for better seeing
Thy Word made flesh, and in a manger laid:
Thy presence come, O God, thy will be done.

Laurence Housman, 1920; alt.
Geoffrey T. Shaw, 1921

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