Friday, January 13, 2012

Live Or Die?

On Sept. 14, 2001 at Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal installation, President Bush's national security adviser, Condi Rice, was inspired by an apt departure from The Hymnal 1982. As she writes in her memoir, No Higher Honor:
I am the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, and my mother was a church organist. Music has been at the center of my life since I was born. I cannot to this day sing "O God Our Help in Ages Past," without flashing back to National Cathedral. I focused on the music and the extraordinary words of our great national songs. What had begun as a day of sadness ended, for me, with a sense of rising defiance. The last hymn was "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." The original words of the Civil War hymn had been "As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free." Over the years congregations (hoping not to sound offensive, I guess) had changed the words to "As he died to make men holy, let us live to make men free." Much to my surprise, we sang the original version. As the military choir sang the climatic "Amen, Amen," I could feel my own spirit renewed. We'd mourned the dead. Now it was time to defend the country.

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