I suppose I should have started this year of song by defining what a hymn is. The word hymn comes from the Greek word hymnos which means a song of praise. This is a fairly common definition, but many also add that a hymn is a song of joy, thanksgiving, adoration and prayer. While most of us probably associate hymns with the Christian church, it would be difficult for one religious group to claim them entirely. The ancient Egyptians had hymns, as did the ancient Greeks (the Homeric Hymns), the Hindu tradition (the Vedas) and of course, we can’t forget the Psalms of Judaism. I’m sure there are many others – past and present.   There is something quite basic about using words and music to express our deepest emotions.

This understanding of the diversity and history of hymnody brings us to today’s selection. September 21st is the UN International Day of Peace.   It feels to me that we are regularly inundated with news reporting horrors of war, unrest, poverty and injustice. Sometimes the news seems very distant, and sometimes very close. Sometimes events are massive and overwhelming, sudden or longstanding, personal or unknown. Today I offer a hymn of prayer. At times it is difficult to know what else to do but cry these very familiar words.

Dona Nobis Pacem
Grant Us Peace