Handout 1: The Almighty Love
From Eugene B. Navias, Singing Our History (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1975).
The lyrics of "The Almighty Love" were written by Theodore Parker (1810-1860). In 1841, early in his ministry, Parker preached a controversial sermon, "The Transient and the Permanent in Christianity." Eugene Navias summarizes the sermon:
Parker considered the transient elements of Christianity to be miracles, revelations, creeds and doctrines; and the permanent elements to be in the moral sense within the hearts of good persons. Any truths which are in the teachings of Jesus are there because they meet the practical tests of life, not because of the outward authority of Jesus, the Bible, the church, or creeds.
Soon after controversy erupted over the sermon, Parker was invited to become the minister of the Twenty-eighth Congregational Society (Unitarian) in Boston, which came eventually to meet in Boston's Music Hall, where Parker spoke weekly to congregations of up to 3,000 people. The hymn "The Almighty Love," written in 1864, reveals Parker's understanding of the nature of God.
Lyrics: Theodore Parker, 1864
Music: Transylvania L.M., 16th Century Hungarian Melody, or Old Hundredth L.M. (commonly known as the Doxology)
In darker days, and nights of storm,
Men knew Thee but to fear Thy form,
And in the reddest lightnings saw
Thine arm avenge insulted law.
In brighter days we read Thy love
In flowers beneath, in stars above;
And, in the track of every storm,
Behold Thy beauty's rainbow form.
Even in the reddest lightning's path
We see no vestiges of wrath,
But always Wisdom, —perfect Love,
From flowers below to stars above.
See, from on high sweet influence rains
On palace, cottage, mountains, plains;
No hour of wrath shall mortals fear,
For the Almighty Love is here.