Why “America the Beautiful”?

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We had another successful psalm sing yesterday, with hundreds in attendance. It was glorious, and the Lord was kind as always. Thanks to all of you who prayed for us, and who have supported us in various ways from around the country. The fact that President Trump retweeted a reference to one of our recent psalm sings just made things just a little extra festive. Thanks also to the many people from our broader community who joined us — the event really was wonderful. We thank the Lord for all of it.

So . . . a couple of post mortem comments, if you will allow me.

We did one extra thing this time that I would like to explain briefly. We sang three songs of the kind we usually sing at church — O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, Psalm 2, and Jesus Shall Reign, a Watts adaptation of Ps. 72. We then sang the doxology, which “closed” the psalm sing portion, and then we really concluded the event by singing America the Beautiful. Because it is not a hymn proper, we separated it. But I chose this song because of something it says in the second verse, which all Americans need to hear, remember, reflect on, and learn to live by.

America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

That sentiment is glorious, and it is what we Americans have somehow lost — “liberty in law.” A clip of us singing that portion is below, which also leads to my next point.

We had one protester in the middle, as you can see from the photo, and also a handful of protesters across the street with signs. The one in the middle was not disruptive at all, and the ones across the street just held up their signs, and neither were they disruptive. We do not begrudge them their freedom to express their views, however much we differ with those views. We are fighting for their freedom as much as ours. I am glad they dissented the way they did. Although I will mention that I am also glad that we figured out a way to get liberal Christians to use a word like “abomination.” Just sing psalms — who knew?

But somebody else was blasting some Cardi B from a nearby apartment window, which we couldn’t really hear while we were singing, but in between songs it filled the whole space with a hellish and cacophonous racket. I say it was Cardi B, but how would I know? Somebody on Facebook said it was. That someone, like our volunteer percussionists at the previous psalm sing, had a commitment to the free expression of dissenting views that is clearly approaching zero. His commitment to the opposite of free speech rivals even the giants in this censoring and censorious enterprise, giants like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and those other guys.

All of it reminded me of this, from Screwtape.

Music and silence—how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell—though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express—no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise—Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile—Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it.

The Screwtape Letters

And because I am apparently in a mood to quote other people, let me finish with this.

“Take off your mask . . .”

Bob Dylan, When He Returns