A Song from the Road

Holy Trinity StratfordDuring my recent trip to England and Scotland with students, we had the opportunity to spend some time in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.  While the main reason for going in is seeing the place where Shakespeare is buried, it’s also a beautiful church in and of itself.  As I sat in the silence, I took out the pew-rack hymnal and came across this hymn:

“O Happy Band of Pilgrims” by St. Joseph the Hymnographer and J. M. Neale

1 O happy band of pilgrims,
If onward ye will tread
With Jesus as your fellow
To Jesus as your Head!

2 O happy if ye labour
As Jesus did for men;
O happy if ye hunger
As Jesus hungered then!

3 *The cross that Jesus carried
He carried as your due;
The crown that Jesus weareth,
He weareth it for you.

4 *The faith by which ye see him,
The hope in which ye yearn,
The love that through all troubles
To him alone will turn,

5 *What are they but forerunners
To lead you to his sight?
What are they save the effluence
Of uncreated light?

6 The trials that beset you,
The sorrows ye endure,
The manifold temptations
That death alone can cure,

7 What are they but his jewels
Of right celestial worth?
What are they but the ladder
Set up to heaven on earth?

8 O happy band of pilgrims,
Look upward to the skies,
Where such a light affliction
Shall win you such a prize!

It was, of course, a song appropriate to the moment, particularly as we were about halfway through our trip.  At the same time, the hymn speaks to the broader reality of the Christian journey.  You’ve got some Augustinian sense of Jesus as the Way in the first stanza and some solid reminders of how God works on this side of the journey in stanzas four through seven.  And all with the picture of pilgrimage.

You can learn more about the song here.

This entry was posted in Faith, Music, Teaching, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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