MIdweek Hymn: “To us all, to every nation comes a moment to decide”

This past Corona Sabbath 28 online devotional was about voting, authority, and integrity. The hymn for that post was the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A friend and fellow church musician told me the hymn she often uses in association with the topic of voting is “Once to every man and nation comes a moment to decide.” It’s a GREAT text and I’m happy to have learned of the association of this mighty hymn to the topic of voting. My friend is right on target.

The original text is by James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891.

Here’s what hymnary.org says about him:

Lowell, James Russell, LL.D., was born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, February 22, 1819; graduated at Harvard College, 1838, and was called to the Bar in 1840. Professor of Modern Languages and Literature (succeeding the Poet Longfellow) in Harvard, 1855; American Minister to Spain, also to England in 1881. He was editor of the Atlantic Monthly, from 1857 to 1862; and of the North American Review from 1863 to 1872. Professor Lowell is the most intellectual of American poets, and first of her art critics and humorists. He has written much admirable moral and sacred poetry, but no hymns. One piece, “Men, whose boast it is that ye” (Against Slavery), is part of an Anti-Slavery poem, and in its present form is found in Hymns of the Spirit, 1864. Part of this is given in Songs for the Sanctuary, N.Y., 1865, as “They are slaves who will not choose.” [Rev. F. M. Bird, M.A.]

That hymn text isn’t in the New Century Hymnal; however, the tune I associate with is. It’s NCH #267. But the text we’ll sing to it is found on https://hymnary.org/hymn/VU1996/694. It’s Lowell’s text adapted for more contemporary sensibilities regarding gender from the United Church of Canada hymnal, Voices United.

Author: Hilton Kean Jones

Composer and performer, retired college music professor, lyricist.

One thought on “MIdweek Hymn: “To us all, to every nation comes a moment to decide””

  1. A perfect selection for the day the ballots leave the supervisor of elections office for mail-in voting. Fired up and ready to fill in all those blue bubbles!


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