Hymn to the Peoples

It always surprises me that I can spend as much time as I do sitting at a desk, reading, thinking, writing, and have such a hard time blogging! Still, when I am doing my research I usually come across things to share.

Last week, for example, I read the first memoir of W. E. B. DuBois, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil. This amazing book is a combination of first-person accounts of his life, analysis of social and political systems he experienced, some poetry and spirituality, and certainly the personality of this great world intellectual. I shared in the sermon on Palm Sunday some of his ideas about democracy (and his warning against the “divine right of the majority” in our diverse system). Below is a prayer he composed that has me thinking.

This prayer goes at the heart of Professor Cornel West’s central question: how does a people respond to massive, unchangeable catastrophe? How do the people of the Middle Passage, the people of Slavery and the people of Jim Crow find the peoplehood to become the creators of great music and heart, the community of generosity of spirit, the people of Love? Do you find an example in these thoughts? What do you think? What do your find? What do you feel?

A Hymn to the Peoples

(W. E. B. DuBois)


O Truce of God!

And primal meeting of the Sons of Man,

Foreshadowing the union of the World!

From all the ends of earth we come!


Old Night, the elder sister of the Day,

Mother of Dawn in the golden East,

Meets in the misty twilight with her brood,

Pale and black, tawny, red and brown,

The mighty human rainbow of the world,

Spanning its wilderness of storm.


Softly in sympathy the sunlight falls,

Rare is the radiance of the moon;

And on the darkest midnight blaze the stars—

The far-flown shadows of whose brilliance

Drop like a dream on the dim shores of Time,

Forecasting Days that are to these

As day to night.


So sit we all as one.

So, gloomed in tall and stone-swathed groves,

The Buddha walks with Christ!

And Al-Koran and Bible both be holy!

Almighty Word!

In this Thine awful sanctuary,

First and flame-haunted City of the Widened World,

Assoil us, Lord of Lands and Seas!



We are but weak and wayward men,

Distraught alike with hatred and vainglory;

Prone to despise the Soul that breathes within—

High visioned hordes that lie and steal and kill,

Sinning the sin each separate heart disclaims,

Clambering upon our riven, writhing selves,

Besieging Heaven by trampling men to Hell!

We be blood-guilty! Lo, our hands be red!

Not one may blame the other in this sin!


But here—here in the white Silence of the Dawn,

Before the Womb of Time,

With bowed hearts all flame and shame,

We face the birth-pangs of a world:


We hear the stifled cry of Nations all but born—

The wail of women ravished of their stunted brood!

We see the nakedness of Toil, the poverty of Wealth,

We know the Anarchy of Empire, and doleful Death of Life!

And hearing, seeing, knowing all, we cry:


Save us, World-Spirit, from our lesser selves!

Grant us that war and hatred cease,

Reveal our souls in every race and hue!

Help us, O Human God, in this Thy Truce,

To make Humanity divine!

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