2 page 3 page
August 3, 1890 Phillips
(Renowned minister at Harvard; author of lyrics to “O Little
Town of Bethlehem”; in a letter answering Helen Keller’s
questions about God)
I love to tell you about God. But He will tell you himself by the
love which He will put into your heart if you ask Him. And Jesus,
who is His Son, but is nearer to Him than all of us His other children,
came into the world on purpose to tell us all about our Father’s
love. If you read His words, you will see how full His heart is
of the love of God. “We know that He loves us,” He says.
And so He loved men himself and though they were very cruel to Him
and at last killed Him, He was willing to die for them because He
loved them so. And, Helen, He loves men still, and He loves us,
and He tells us that we may love Him.
Julia Ward Howe
(On writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”; from
Reminiscences of Julia Ward Howe, first published in The
Atlantic Monthly, March 1899)
I went to bed that night as usual and slept, according to my wont,
quite soundly. I awoke in the gray of the morning twilight, and
as I lay waiting for the dawn, the long lines of the desired poem
began to twine themselves in my mind. Having thought out all the
stanzas, I said to myself, “I must get up and write these
verses down, lest I fall asleep again and forget them.” So
with a sudden effort I sprang out of bed and found in the dimness
an old stump of a pen which I remembered to have used the day before.
I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper. I had
learned to do this when, on previous occasions, attacks of versification
had visited me in the night and I feared to have recourse to a light
lest I should wake the baby, who slept near me. I was always obliged
to decipher my scrawl before another night should intervene, as
it was only legible while the matter was fresh in my mind. At this
time, having completed my writing, I returned to bed and fell asleep,
saying to myself, “I like this better than most things that
I have written.”
“Battle Hymn of
the Republic” (final stanza)
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,
While God is marching on.
May 1944 Learned Hand
(Presiding judge, Second Circuit Court of Appeals; from his speech
“The Spirit of Liberty”)
And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and
women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom
to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight
to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon
their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession
of only a savage few — as we have learned to our sorrow.
What, then, is the spirit
of liberty? I cannot define it; I can only tell you my own faith.
The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it
is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand
the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit
which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the
spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth
unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near 2,000
years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but
has never quite forgotten — that there may be a kingdom where
the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest.
January 20, 1949 Harry
(Thirty-third president of the United States; from his inaugural
In performing the duties of my office, I need the help and prayers
of every one of you. I ask for your encouragement and your support.
The tasks we face are difficult, and we can accomplish them only
if we work together.
Each period of our national
history has had its special challenges. Those that confront us now
are as momentous as any in the past. Today marks the beginning not
only of a new administration, but of a period that will be eventful,
perhaps decisive, for us and for the world.
It may be our lot to
experience, and in large measure to bring about, a major turning
point in the long history of the human race. The first half of this
century has been marked by unprecedented and brutal attacks on the
rights of man, and by the two most frightful wars in history. The
supreme need of our time is for men to learn to live together in
peace and harmony.
The peoples of the earth
face the future with grave uncertainty, composed almost equally
of great hopes and great fears. In this time of doubt, they look
to the United States as never before for good will, strength, and
It is fitting, therefore,
that we take this occasion to proclaim to the world the essential
principles of the faith by which we live, and to declare our aims
to all peoples.
The American people stand
firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning.
We believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law
and equal opportunity to share in the common good. We believe that
all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression. We
believe that all men are created equal because they are created
in the image of God.
From this faith we will
not be moved.
1955 Marian Anderson
(Internationally known classical singer; note on her favorite song,
from her autobiography, My Lord, What a Morning)
Everyone has his favorites. I suppose mine are “Ave Maria,”
“Begrüssung,” “Komm, süsser Tod,”
Bach’s “Es ist vollbracht,” “The Crucifixion”
and, perhaps most precious of all, the spiritual “He Has the
Whole World in His Hands.” This spiritual was brought to my
attention by Marian Kirby, collector of folk songs of the Negroes
and the mountain people. An English musician, Hamilton Forrest,
provided a piano part that fits the words like a glove. In many
places, even where the audience did not understand English, the
song has had to be repeated.
This spiritual reminds
us not to lose sight of the fact that we have our times of extremity
and that there is a Being who can help us at such a time. It takes
in everybody. It speaks first of the wind and the rain. No one can
stop the rain, no matter how rich or poor, brilliant or stupid he
may be. “He’s got the wind and the rain in His hands,
He’s got the whole world in His hands.” It goes on,
“He’s got the lying man, He’s got the gambling
man, He’s got the crap-shooting man in His hands.” That
takes in most of the transgressors. Then it comes to “little
bits-a-baby.” Who will protect them when mother and father
can’t? Then “He’s got you and me, brother, in
His hands. He’s got you and me, sister, in His hands. He’s
got everybody here in His hands. He’s got the whole world
in His hands.”
It is all there in that
spiritual. I chose it not alone because I thought the audience would
like it, but because it had a cry, an appeal, a meaning to me. It
is more, much more, than a number on a concert program.
2 page 3 page