Anticipate Peace – Reflections on Two Hymns

Anticipate Peace – Reflections on Two Hymns

In today’s reflection, FPC Lakeland organist, Scott Ziegler looks at two hymns admonishing peace. 

A reflection on “When Will People Cease their Fighting” (hymn #401 in Presbyterian Hymnal 1990), text by Constance Cherry, 1986:

When will people cease their fighting? When will armies wage no war, nations conquer not their neighbor, weapons idle, used no more? When will guns and bombs be silent? When will captives be set free? All creation groans in longing for the world’s true liberty.

The text of our hymns is one Christianity’s greatest treasures. The poetry above alludes to graphic imagery of human suffering on Earth collectively reaching out in quite demanding, pointed prayer to the God above: when will peace be restored on the Earth? 

Floods and earthquakes, drought and famine plague the world with awesome ill, but far greater is war’s horror caused by human, stubborn will. Blest are those who, working, praying, purpose in their hearts to be instruments of peace, committed to the nations’ harmony.

A humble acknowledgement: perhaps the anguish of the human race is of our own doing, the wars we wage a product of the same stubbornness that fails to accept God’s gift of peace. 

As we strive for peace with vigor, hoping to be shown the way, we are strengthened in the knowledge of a future, perfect day; for we know that deeper, richer peace is ours when Christ shall reign: then will all our swords be plowshares and God’s children free from pain.

What brilliance! The sheer splendor in objects of combat transformed into weapons of peace! How can it be, such a victory? It can be only through Christ’s reign over the created world, the same world that stubbornly longs for help, so blind to see assistance incarnate dwelling among us; the savior, Jesus Christ, with us then, now, and always, not just on Christmas day. 

On “O Day of Peace,” A prayer by Carl P. Daw, set to music in The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990), #450:

O day of peace that dimly shines through all our hopes and prayers and dreams, guide us to justice, truth, and love, delivered from our selfish schemes. May swords of hate fall from our hands, our hearts from envy find release, till by God’s grace our warring world shall see Christ’s promised reign of peace.

Then shall the wolf dwell with the lamb, nor shall the fierce devour the small; as beasts and cattle calmly graze, a little child shall lead them all. Then enemies shall learn to love, all creatures find their true accord; the hope of peace shall be fulfilled, for all the earth shall know the Lord.