Deep Cove Crier July, 1995
Our American neighbours just below the border take July 4th very seriously, singing "The Stars and Stripes Forever" with great gusto, and boldly waving the American flag. When Canada Day (July let) comes around, our response is much more ambivalent and muted. Yes, a few flags appear. Yes, our national anthem is still sung at hockey games and veterans gatherings. But overall, as Canadians, we seem almost embarrassed to be too enthusiastic about our identity as Canadians. When I sing "O Canada" it often stirs something deep within me that I do not fully understand. Sometimes I have just brushed those feelings away, describing them as the pre hockey game litters. But in reality I love this land of Canada, with all its joys and frustrations. Canada, despite all its problems and headaches is still "the Truth North, Strong and Free".

Our national anthem O Canada" is one of the few national anthems that is actually a prayer. The tune was originally written by Calixa Lavallee, a French Canadian who lived between 1842 to 1891. Robert Stanley Weir wrote the four English verses in 1908 to the anthem. O Canada" in both languages is a living testimony to the significant spiritual roots of our nation.

On the recent "March for Jesus" across Canada, we had the privilege of singing O Canada" in both French and English, intermixed with a stunning native Mohawk chant. In some ways, the French version is even more spiritual: "Amour sacre du trone et de l'autel (Sacred love of the throne and the altar) Remplis nos coeurs de ton souffle inmortel (Fill our hearts with your immortal breath). The fourth verse of "0 Canada" is also a powerful reminder that Canada is meant to be one nation under God: "Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer, Hold our dominion in Thy loving care. Help us to find, O God, in Thee A lasting rich reward. As wafting for the better way. We ever stand on guard."

Truly we have been given so much as Canadians. Not only have we been given remarkable, natural resources, we have also been gifted with a wonderful spiritual heritage. In many ways, we, as a nation, are like Cinderella with amnesia. We've been chosen as a princess, and given many wonderful gifts, but we can't remember who we are. Some have described Canada as a nation without a soul. Etched in stone on our Peace Tower are three verses from the bible. Most significantly, one of the verses says: "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea." That is why from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, tens of thousands of Canadians recently said this prayer in dozens of Marches for Jesus: "We choose this day, to declare with the founders of our nation, "He will have dominion from sea to sea. Jesus, have dominion from sea to sea."

Canada is such a wonderful place to live. May we be ever thankful for all the diversity in our geography, in our resources, and our people. May "God keep our land glorious and free ..."

Rev. Ed Hird, Rector
St. Simon's Anglican Church

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