Smite Us and Save Us All

This past Sunday, the Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, my church sang G.K. Chesterton’s hymn, O God of Earth and Altar. It is a beautiful and powerful hymn, especially appropriate for our current political situation, I thought. And thus I share it here:

O God of earth and altar,
    Bow down and hear our cry. 
Our earthly rulers falter,
    Our people drift and die; 
The walls of gold entomb us,
    The swords of scorn divide, 
Take not thy thunder from us,
    But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
    From lies of tongue and pen, 
From all the easy speeches
    That comfort cruel men, 
For sale and profanation
    Of honour and the sword, 
From sleep and from damnation,
    Deliver us, good lord.

Tie in a living tether
    The prince and priest and thrall, 
Bind all our lives together,
    Smite us and save us all; 
In ire and exultation
    Aflame with faith, and free, 
Lift up a living nation,
    A single sword to thee.

Free from the Future

There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, any more than in offering to fight one’s grandmother. The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past.

-G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World

Life in Elfland

“…the fairy tales founded in me two convictions; first, that this world is a wild and startling place, which might have been quite different, but which is quite delightful; second, that before this wildness and delight one may well be modest and submit to the queerest limitations of so queer a kindness.”

– G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

A Duel to the Death

“A modern man,” said Dr. Pym, “must- if he be thoughtful- approach the problem of marriage with some caution. Marriage is a stage- doubtless a suitable stage- in the long advance of mankind towards a goal which we cannot as yet conceive; which we are not, perhaps, yet fitted even to desire. What, gentlemen, is now the ethical position of marriage? Have we outlived it?”

“Outlived it?” broke out Moon. “Why, nobody’s even survived it! Look at all the people married since Adam and Eve- and all as dead as mutton.”

“There is no doubt an interpellation joc’lar in its character,” said Dr. Pym frigidly. “I cannot tell what may be Mr. Moon’s matured and ethical view of marriage-”

“I can tell,” said Michael [Moon] savagely, out of the gloom; “marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.”

-Michael Moon and Dr. Cyrus Pym, in G.K. Chesterton’s Manalive.

Having Two Legs

“Why don’t they make more games out of the wind?” he asked in some excitement. “Kites are all right, but why should it only be kites? Why, I thought of three other games for a windy day while I was climbing that tree. Here’s one of them: you take a lot of pepper-”

“I think,” interposed Moon, with a sardonic mildness, “that your games are already sufficiently interesting. Are you, may I ask, a professional acrobat on a tour, or a travelling advertisement for Sunny Jim? How and why do you display all this energy for clearing walls and climbing trees in our melancholy, but at least rational, suburbs?”

The stranger, so far as so loud a person was capable of it, appeared to grow confidential.

“Well, it’s a trick of my own,” he confessed candidly. “I do it by having two legs.”

– Micheal Moon and Innocent Smith in Manalive, by G.K. Chesterton