This past year I had the privilege of serving on the editorial advisory board for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book coming out in November called Oh, Canada! The book is a collection of stories either by or about Canadians or about others' experiences in our country. I got to read and give a score to 135 stories (one of which was mine - I shamelessly gave it top score.) The publishers will average the scores and whittle the book down to 101 stories for the final book.
It made me proud and grateful to read these uplifting stories and to see our country through the eyes of others. I grew more appreciative of all we take for granted, and felt inspired to pray for Canada and its leaders. But when I thought about what sort of prayer I would pray, I soon realized the best prayer has already been written for us.
So, my fellow Canadians, I put before you a challenge this Canada Day. I want you to enjoy the holiday with all your heart, the hamburgers on the grill, the watermelon, the lawn chairs, the sunscreen, the bug spray, the flag waving, and the fireworks. Wear red and white and celebrate loud with gratitude for all that is ours. But that's not my challenge. That should all come naturally.
Here's my challenge. When you hear (or better yet, sing) O Canada, will you remember that it is one of the few national anthems in the world written as a prayer? The first verse, the one we all know by heart, is not as obvious until you reach the "God, keep our land glorious and free" part. But are you familiar with verse four?
Hold our dominion in thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee
A lasting, rich reward;
As waiting for the better day
We ever stand on guard..."
Here is the English translation of the French version:
Oh Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers.
As in thy arm, ready to wield the sword
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits
Thy valour, steeped in faith,
Will protect our homes and our rights.
O Canada in both official languages gives testimony to our rich spiritual heritage. I am saddened that too often we forget our roots. We have been given so much, the best of natural resources and freedoms others can only dream of. We remember the valour that bought us this freedom, but we ignore the "steeped in faith" part. Yet etched in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill are three verses from the Bible, one of which says "He shall have dominion from sea to sea." (Psalm 72:8)
I can think of no more appropriate prayer this Canada Day than that. "God, have dominion from sea to sea."