Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, November 02, 2015

Not any reason that I shouldn't be one too! - Rector's Rambling for November 1, 2015 (All Saints Day)

And there’s not any reason – no, not the least – why I shouldn’t be one too.
Just reading those words puts a smile on my face as it brings to mind one of my favorite hymns, which we will sing this morning.  Published in 1929, it was placed in The Hymnal 1940 in the section titled “Hymns for Children”.  But it quickly became quite popular, and subsequent hymnals have placed in among the regular selections for All Saints’ Day.
It is in some ways a simple and childish hymn.  But it contains powerful truth.  The first stanza describes what makes someone a saint (patient, brave, true, toiled, fought for the Lord), the second that they loved the Lord and His love made them strong.  Both the first two stanzas go on to describe the variety of people who are saints (doctor, queen, shepherdess, soldier, priest, martyr).
But it is third stanza that drives home the point.  Saints are just long ago and far away!  “The world is bright with the joyous saints who love to do Jesus’ will”, and that you can meet all over, even “at tea”.  And most importantly, each stanza ends with an admonition that the singer should be aspiring to be a saint as well.  There isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t be saints.  And the goal is obtainable if we cooperate with God’s Grace to accomplish it.
As an English bishop once opined in the chapel at my seminary, “the reason we are not saints yet, is because we are not sure we want to be”.  May God grant us the desire to be saints, knowing He will also equip us for that transformation.
How popular is this hymn?  Our YouTube channel has 1035 videos that have been viewed over 850,000 times.  Nearly 50,000 of those views are the upload of a video of this hymn from All Saints’ Sunday in 2008.  The next most viewed video trails by 16,000 views.  Lots of folks, I hope, looking to be saints.