Turning 65 is an auspicious occasion. Forty-four years ago I celebrated my 21st birthday on the Jersey shore eating seafood with my sister and her husband. Karen died ten years ago but I am again celebrating with Denny. This time in Omaha with his wife of eight years, Roseanne whom I have come to love.
Today, I will take the man I love — and will marry on September 12 — to Lincoln. We will reminisce as I share where I lived and worked right out of college. Haven’t been back in decades — much has changed, of this I am sure. Yet, much remains the same! Seems like the perfect way to spend the day leading up to an auspicious birthday.
Lloyd Stone (1912 – 1993) was born in California and attended the University of Southern California as a music major. He intended to become a teacher. Life often gets in the way of plans — he joined a circus bound for Hawaii and remained there for the rest of his life, writing poems and songs. This is his best known work — written when Lloyd was 22 years old. It has become the heartfelt prayer of this 65 y/o man:
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.
The poem is typically sung to the tune Finlandia, composed by Jean Sibelius. Churches wanting to include it in their hymnals “christianized” the lyrics by adding additional verses. I believe the original poem by Lloyd Stone is plenty Christian as written and needs no further embellishment.
A favorite rendition is sung by Minnesota-based Cantus [link]. At this point in my life it says more to me than any birthday song, expresses a wish greater than any gift I could desire.
Dearest Richard – Happiest of birthdays to our wise and wonderful friend. Sixty-five is a great age, both to look backward and forward. I can see more of your grand journey emerging.