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The Certainties of Ascension

At the Church of the Ascension in Manhattan, two things can be counted on in every service (the English ones, at least): words of welcome will be made with explicit mention of sexual orientation and Sibelius’s “Finlandia” will be sung, using the words by Lloyd Stone:

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

Every time it nearly brings me to tears. These certainties in the words are so obvious, yet every time I hear them it sounds, in this world, like a great discovery: other people have lives too that are worth living and worth keeping.

“Finlandia” is particularly moving to me after having lived at a co-op house at Brown University by that name.