As o'er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.
But even more resonant was the fifth stanza:
So be it, Lord! Thy throne shall never,
Like earth's proud empires, pass away,
Thy kingdom stands and grows forever,
Till all Thy creatures own Thy sway.
After we sang, my husband related the story of how this hymn was sung upon the occasion of Great Britain's relinquishing control of Hong Kong to Communist China. There was a time when it was said "the sun never sets on the British empire"; that time has passed. Now I fear that the time is coming that the country I love will have to acknowledge its greatest days are behind. I pray that's not the case and that when my children are adults they will be able to thank their parents' generation for preserving and handing down the ideals and freedoms so many Americans have fought and died for in the short life of this nation.
In the words of VP candidate Sarah Palin:
It was Ronald Reagan who said that freedom is always just one generation away from extinction. We don't pass it to our children in the bloodstream; we have to fight for it and protect it, and then hand it to them so that they shall do the same, or we're going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children's children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.
Yet I take comfort from the certainty that even if the United States as I have come to know it passes away, the kingdom of our Lord won through the sacrifice of His Son on the Cross will always stand, and that He will preserve, extend and protect it into eternity, long after this world and its nations have ceased to exist.