This is a hymn I wrote the day after the twin towers fell on September 11, 2011. A few years later Joy and I went to Ground Zero and spent some time in nearby St Paul’s Church – which had in a remarkable way been untouched by the carnage of the attacks despite being yards away.
The church had become the place where exhausted rescue workers went to sleep on the pews and had also become a place to show photographs and collections of badges sent by emergency services around the world who wanted to identify with the work of the heroes of 9/11. It was for me one of the most emotional moments to see, at the top of one pile, a badge from Gwent Fire Service – my home area.
It was, somehow, an example of the final verse that we bear the pain together … but also that in God there is also a promise of a future time when warfare will cease. Without that hope what have we?
When mountains that we thought secure
lie crumbled where we stand
and pain and helplessness endure
– all from another’s hand –
Help us to bear the prophet’s mark,
to stand apart from hate
and witness to the Father’s call
for justice in the land.
God is our strength and refuge still
though all the earth give way;
our help at every time of ill,
the light of our dark day.
And as his people in the world
we bear the scars of grief,
but echo faith’s resounding note
– and still for justice pray.
There is a place of holiness
where God makes warfare cease.
There is a day of hopefulness,
a promised time of peace.
So, here today, we bear the pain
but pledge our lives to live for truth
so justice may increase
Recommended tune: Vox Dilecti