July 2, 2023

Dear St. Martin of Tours Family and Friends,

In addition to a National Anthem our nation also has a National Hymn. The composer George William Warren wrote the music to set the verses of Rev. Daniel Crane Roberts “God of Our Fathers,” which he wrote in 1876 for the nation’s centennial. In 1887, the year in which United States celebrated the centennial of its Constitution, this hymn, words and music, was chosen by Congress to be our official National Hymn.

In this hymn, notice that the God of our fathers is the Lord of Hosts Himself who grants us liberty, a gift which we may keep only so long as we root our nation’s law in the Law of God. God’s word is “our law” and His way “our chosen way.”

God of our fathers, whose almighty hand
Leads forth in beauty all the starry band
Of shining worlds in splendor through the skies,
Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise.

Thy love divine hath led us in the past;
In this free land by Thee our lot is cast;
Be Thou our Ruler, Guardian, Guide, and Stay,
Thy word our law, Thy paths our chosen way.

From war's alarms, from deadly pestilence,
Be Thy strong arm our ever-sure defense;
Thy true religion in our hearts increase;
Thy bounteous goodness nourish us in peace.

Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,
Lead us from night to never-ending day;
Fill all our lives with love and grace divine,
And glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine.

Could we sing this hymn once again today in public without fear of censorship or reprisal? Our contemporary celebrations of Independence day seem shadows of what many of us remember from our youth; we have only a fading gleam of the joy of those celebrations which connect us to 1876, and 1776. For although we still have fireworks, and we can make the occasion of July 4 a family event, nevertheless the joy of what was once so deep-rooted in the spirit of our nation has been, through gradual acceptance of modernist and socialist ideas, by one activist Supreme Court decision after another, by a tolerance and then an acceptance of atheism and moral licentiousness, what it means — and what it feels — to be an American, has been eclipsed and winnowed of its joy. Joy is a gift of the Divine, because joy can be defined as an inner feeling of happiness that comes from hope. Without God, there can be no hope; hence there is no joy, only a fleeting anesthetization from the sadness and despair that arise once joy is lost.

We pray God save us from pestilence and war, but also buttress “true religion.” “Lead us from night to neverending day.” “God of Our Fathers” is a mighty hymn, set to a mighty melody fit for soldiers and all those who have the spirit and the loyalty of the soldier, who fights under the banners of his country and of his God. In this great hymn which remains to this day our patrimony, we reassert a new hope for a renewed joy in America — a future America in which Christ will reign in the hearts of the majority of our citizens, and through them make Him manifest in society. May the glory, laud, and praise be ever Thine,” Lord, and may the words of this glorious hymn ring true for us.

Happy 247th birthday, America. As we say in Latin, ad multos annos — may you have many more years, America, and may they be years of renewed hope and joy.

Father Waldman Signature


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