Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

to its Deity. It is impossible for a country to wage a successful war against great odds unless the national cause and ideals are rooted deeply in religious conviction. But rituals and armies are alike abominable in the sight of God when their aims are selfish and their motives unjust.

The idea of God in the national soul finds one of its clearest expressions in song. On July 14, 1918, the American soldiers joined heartily with the French in the celebration of their national holiday. At the Third Aviation Center near Issondun the observance of this day was particularly happy. A regiment of French soldiers was the guest of the American camp. The neighbors from the surrounding country had also been invited and they were present in large numbers with their baskets filled in real picnic style. Perhaps one hundred families or groups seated themselves under the trees or about the fields at the dinner hour, where they were joined by many American and French soldiers. After the noon meal the Young Men's Christian Association arranged for games, athletics and two popular addresses, one in English, the other in French. About five o'clock, the central Y. M. C. A. building was crowded with French and American soldiers, about one thousand in number. In addition to the excellent canteen service, the Association had distributed free of charge to all, large quantities of tobacco, hot chocolate and cookies.

The men were mingling with each other in a most happy fellowship when word came that the Crown Prince and his army had begun their final drive for Paris. Everybody knew that certain carefully chosen American and French Divisions had been lined up on either side of the Marne, awaiting the coming of the Hun host. We could not escape the feeling that the destiny of civilization had again been compressed into one fateful hour and that the life of a great and splendid nation trembled and hung in the balance. The situation was quiet but intense—one calling for some kind of expression. Jumping upon a chair, I called for the singing of the Marseillais. A young Frenchman went to the piano and soon the thrilling notes of that splendid song were vibrating in every man's soul. I have never heard such singing. It was more than a song; it was a defiant challenge, a prayer, a lusty call to arms, a tremendous summoning of spiritual forces. As the last note died away like the sudden ceasing of a bugle, the pianist passed naturally and graciously into the strains of The Star-Spangled Ban

There is something indefinably grand about America's national anthem, but I confess there is also something lacking. The accustomed hesitancy near the close of the first verse was a sufficient warning. Nobody dared try the second verse-a momentary but painful silence followed, then one of the American soldiers began to sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The effect was instantane

The French soldiers joined heart and soul, carried along by the rugged, elemental force of the music. When we came to the third verse a very

ner.

ous.

dramatic thing happened. A young fellow standing near the piano raised a clear tenor voice, vibrant with emotion, and everybody listened" He hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat,

He is sifting out the souls of men before His judgment seat, Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him, be jubilant, my feet

Since God is marching on!The chorus that followed was a glorious shout of victory, born of the conviction that defeat was impossible. In the same manner we waited for the last verse and its message reached deep into our souls" In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me,
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

Our God is marching on!” This time the chorus was equally strong but modulated and more like a chant. As the last notes died away one could visualize the morrow, with its shock of battle and innumerable familiar faces set steadfastly toward Calvary. Then it was that I discovered why both in the British and American armies this grand hymn had found such favor. The Marseillais is a marching host, aflame with passionate đevotion. The Star-Spangled Banner suggests a stately procession, dignified and trustful, but the Battle Hymn of the Republic is a song of the national soul, a mighty Christian crusade wherein men go forth to die for God and native land. On the 19th of July the wounded men began to arrive at the hospitals in central France. As acting chaplain of the Aviation Center, I became very intimate

with many of these men. There was a large number of Marines from the Second Division who had been horribly burned with mustard gas. Often have I stood by their bedsides and held their hands and brushed back the hair from their foreheads and wiped great beads of perspiration from their brows while the nurses redressed the quivering flesh. The agony was intense, but I never heard a complaint or even a suggestion that the sacrifice and pain were too great.

4. This is the day of small nations. As the outlines of the national soul become clear, we realize that national consciousness is a necessary step in the development of society toward that final integration wherein we shall have a world brotherhood. World empires won by conquest and the subjugation and extermination of weaker nations are forever impossible, simply because they are unnatural, anti-social, war-provoking combinations. In the destruction of three mighty empires, the war has ripped the political roof from half of Europe and permitted the oppressed peoples to look up once more at the stars. To visualize the colossal consequences of this cyclonic change is beyond most

One thing is certain; it is bound to affect profoundly the colonial policies of Great Britain, France, America and Japan. Political justice must be fully recognized and its consequences faced squarely by these larger nations. Society seems to develop in concentric circles: first there is the individual and small groups, as the family and community, then the nation and after that still larger and larger combinations until we reach the final synthesis. Great emphasis must be placed upon the imperative necessity of every race living through completely each stage of its development. No group of people can ever take its full place in the life of the world until it has first developed a great national consciousness. By great we mean not bigness, or wealth, or political power, but great in soul qualities. The sudden awakening of subjugated people to new political and national hopes following the defeat of the Central European Empires is prophetic of a peaceful future because it is the restoration of a disturbed social order to its natural way of evolution. When a nation, however small, begins to grow in Christian culture all race antagonism and petty selfish suspicion disappears.

of us.

The world war has brought society to the place where the wide dissemination of Christian culture by education has become the imperative duty of both the State and the Church. The public school and the State university are the chief instruments of the State for this work. In the previous chapter we mentioned the necessity of the public school getting into the home in an educational way. In a very recent announcement, Columbia University has proclaimed its intention to extend its university extension work not only into various parts of the community but actually into the home thus making it possible for individuals and for families to come into direct contact with the rich learning

« ÎnapoiContinuați »