“Once to Every Man and Nation”

This post relates to my movie review of The Mission a few days ago. I’m actually watching it again as I felt I missed out some deeper truths. I came across an apt hymn written by James Lowell, an American poet (1819-1891). He was opposed to slavery and wrote a poem “The Present Crisis” to pro­test­ against Amer­i­ca’s war with Mex­i­co. The poem has been condensed to this hymn. These words remind us that we all have a choice to make whether good or evil, much like Father Gabriel and Rodrigo.

The movie ends with the verse:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:5

Once to Every Man and Nation

By James Russell Lowell

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

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