"Nearer, my God, to Thee"

The human heart yearns for the living and true God. That is the explanation of the prayer for good, for health and happiness, joy and peace, that is ever being uttered by mankind, sometimes audibly, more often silently. It is the meaning of the prayer that will not be stifled, that must be expressed. Men intuitively sense the presence of God; and instinctively the cry rises to the great creator from lips that are sinful and from lips that are pure, "Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!" Sarah Flower Adams, well-nigh a hundred years ago, expressed, in words which will endure while the centuries run, the desire of humanity to get closer to God, to realize man's unity with the divine.

It has always been the way of mankind, this longing for communion with God. Men are aware of the degradation of materialism, aware of its sordidness, its meanness, its criminality when indulged to excess. They know that in it lie sorrow and sickness—all tribulation. Hence the cry which time and again becomes articulate in the voice of prophet and sage. Sing the Psalms as they were sung by the Hebrews of old, and you will often hear the voice of entreaty beseeching God to listen and to save. It is no peevish wail, either; but the expression of a great, deep, heartfelt longing for spiritual light, spiritual guidance, spiritual freedom. It is the utterance of the best that is in mankind.

Among the Churches
September 8, 1923

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