Any Episcopalians out there? I don't know if this hymn is in other church hymnals, but it's in the Episcopal hymnal, and we sang it today to celebrate All Saints' Day. Yah, Yah, I know, All Saints' Day is the day after Halloween, but that was Thursday and today is Sunday. I managed to make it to church this morning cuz of a little thing called Daylight Saving Times so I woke up in time. After nearly 50 years of going to church at 10 o'clock, I am in a town where the Episcopal service starts at 9, and for some piss poor reason, I just can't seem to get my act together for that time slot. But today I did, and I'm glad I did.
I grew up a poor black child in Mississippi... oh sorry. Seriously, I grew up a poor redheaded child in a small town in mid-Missouri with a 3 big sisters and a single (albeit exhausted, overworked, lonely, chemically dependent, neglectful) mother. School and church were our refuge. I never missed a day of either in 18 years. Seriously. Although they provided me time away from my home (and my crazy catatonic mother), soon both became my solace, my peace, my joy. I was a member of the junior choir, and I have many wonderful memories singing at the top of my lungs every Thursday and the occasional Sunday. (High school choir took over where church choir ended and filled my heart with even greater joy because of the wonderful Carl Burkel
.) But I digress. Whenever I hear a hymn from my childhood (and the hymnbook changed in 1979 so they aren't always readily sung as much as they once were), I am filled with wonderful memories, smiles and joy that fill my heart. Today was such a day as we sang "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God
." This song will mean nothing to you if you didn't grow up with it, but it means so much to me now (as it did then). It conveys the message that you don't have to die to be a saint. You don't have to be a hero. You don't even have to sacrifice to be a saint. You can be a saint of God in your lifetime. We know many, don't we, who fill this role.
I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green;
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and his love made them strong;
and they followed the right for Jesus' sake
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
and there's not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn't be one too.
They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus' will.
You can meet them in school, on the street, in the store,
in church, by the sea, in the house next door;
they are saints of God, whether rich or poor,
and I mean to be one too.
Some of the lines made me giggle as a kid, like "slain by a fierce wild beast," which gave me the vision of King Arthur. And I truly never met a "shepherdess on the green." But the song, to this day, makes me happy.
And I thought I would share it with you. I hope this All Saints' Day, you are thinking of those people in your life who have gone before you, who live in the woodwork of your church or your school or your home. Who reside in your heart. Who made you who you are today.