Saturday, January 30, 2016

183. Hymn for the Body Politic

Apropos this year's presidential election cycle and all the signs that our civilization is sliding down a steep slope to utter ruin, here is my attempt at a hymn interceding for the condition of society. I am aware the "Gomorrah/flora/fora" rhyme in the first stanza lends it a splash of unintentional humor, especially given the uncommonness in everyday English of the plural form of "forum" and the sketchy effect "flora" has on the poem's tone. All I can say is, not every poem can be equally successful. I felt it imperative to allude to Sodom, Gomorrah and Nineveh in the first stanza, and every other way I could think of to fit them in had at least equally awkward results. Tune: DER HERR IST MEIN GETREUER HIRT, an 18th-century tune originally paired with Wolfgang Mosel's German paraphrase of Psalm 23.
Lord, who would spare for ten men’s sake
A Sodom or Gomorrah,
Whose pity Nineveh could wake
For men and beasts and flora:
Hear now our penitential cry!
Your patient love do not deny
Our nation’s folk and fora!

The heart of man is deathly sick
With sin, a very cancer;
So is our body politic
To Satan’s tune a dancer.
Our citizens and leaders choose
Your kind regard to risk and lose;
Let mercy be Your answer!

You who the world for us preserve
While we of Christ are telling,
Cause yet a while the stars to swerve,
Nor fall upon our dwelling!
Because for us You have such care,
Let wrath be tempered by the prayer
From faithful hearts still swelling!

Since You desire good order, Lord,
Let them not bear it vainly
Whom You allow to use the sword;
Let justice, though ungainly,
Protect the innocent from crime
Until the long-appointed time
When You shall wield it plainly!

This generation is so vile,
What medicine can cure it?
Were You not with us all this while,
How long could we endure it?
O Lord, come soon! O Christ, cut short
This age, of which the foul report
Must vex your Holy Spirit!

Till then, help us in peace abide
And on Your precepts fasten!
Remind us You are on our side
When You afflict and chasten!
If evil leaders we deserve,
A faithful remnant still preserve
While to our aid You hasten!

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