Not long ago a friend told me about a recording by BYU choirs of a beautiful song titled “Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends.” It has meant a lot to me, especially at the end of the academic year when most of my friends went back home. I transcribe the lyrics here, taken mostly from the Oremus Hymnal website:
Thou Gracious God, Whose Mercy Lends
Thou gracious God, whose mercy lends
The light of home, the smile of friends,
Our gathered flock thine arms enfold
As in the peaceful days of old.
Wilt thou not hear us while we raise
In sweet accord of solemn praise
The voices that have mingled long
In joyous flow of mirth and song?
For all the blessings life has brought,
For all the sorrowing hours have taught,
For all we mourn, for all we keep,
The hands we clasp, the loved that sleep.
The noontide sunshine of the past,
These brief, bright moments fading fast,
The stars that gild our darkening years,
The twilight ray from holier spheres.
We thank thee, Father; let thy grace
Our loving circle still embrace,
Thy mercy shed its heavenly store,
Thy peace be with us evermore.
–Oliver Wendell Holmes
This song praises God for the blessing of friends and family, for the experiences of life, for fond memories. It invokes the blessings of God on “our loving circle” even as we separate, whether in absence, travel, or death.
I sense in this song a great peace because of the reassurance of life after death. We will meet again, whether in this life or the next.