I'm a little ashamed even to be going here, but one of the ideas I had for another round of "useful hymns" was a hymn dealing with the problem I've seen several Christians struggle with - how to move on after the death of a pet. I decided the approach to take would be something like the following, though I'm only about 40-percent satisfied with how it turned out. There's an irreducible silliness about the whole subject, in my opinion. And I say this as someone who has seriously mourned the death of several pets. The last stanza has me especially worried, because it's the one that confronts the matter head-on, and it must somehow strike the right balance between a not-too-pedantic, but somewhat polemical admonishment and a tone of compassion and comfort - while, at the same time, not offering any comfort God's Word does not authorize in this case. Also, I didn't want it in any way to encourage the whole "blessing of the pets" craze, or the placing of "rainbow bridge" tracts in churches, both of which I consider abominable in more ways than I want to go into at this time. So, with apologies in advance for its shortcomings, here is:
A Hymn of Thanksgiving for Animal Friends
Tune: GOTT DER VATER, WOHN UNS BEI
("God the Father, be our Stay")
Thank you, Lord, for furry friends,
And fanged, and finned, and feathered!
Though they live in tanks or pens,
Are harnessed, yoked, or tethered,
We but borrow from the wild
These gifts of Your creation;
With care and moderation,
We place them in their station.
Help us, then, with them be mild
And husband their well-being,
To all their comforts seeing,
From pain and terror freeing.
Should we as their god be styled,
Of this, Lord, make us worthy!
Thank you, Lord, for beasts that serve
On leash, or under saddle:
Guides that out of danger swerve,
Or guards no threat can rattle;
Friends that hunt, or search and save,
Some evil thing detecting
And innocents protecting,
But scant reward expecting.
Oh, that we were half as brave
And faithful in our labor,
Devoted to our neighbor,
Dependent on Your favor!
Of how rich a gift you gave
Through them, Lord, keep us mindful!
Thank You, Lord, for pets that cheer
Our hearts with sweet devotion,
Soothing sadness, calming fear,
And cooling hot emotion!
In their trusting, pleading eyes,
You try our hearts, to render
Unto the weaker member
Both faithful love and tender.
Who that feels their due, denies
Your mercy’s greatness, serving
Mankind, though undeserving,
Poor, weak, and inward-curving?
Through their fleeting, little lives,
Lord, lasting lessons teach us!
Thank you, Lord, at last, for grief
Felt at our darlings’ dying;
May it strengthen our belief,
On Your pure word relying!
Let no answers to unknowns
Use heartache to mislead us;
Nor let our sorrow cheat us
Of what You died to deed us.
Though we have no certain stones
On which to stay our weeping,
We leave, Lord, in Your keeping
Our creature-friends, now sleeping.
Let Your vow to raise our bones
Suffice to give us comfort!
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