A modern arrangement of the classic hymn, asking a question very relevant to the current world situation.
Notes / Back story
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst."
This is what I feel is happening in the world right now. We have access to more information than at any time in the history of the world, and yet, nobody seems to know the truth. Right now we are in a pandemic from the COVID-19 Coronavirus.... Or are we? It's a huge threat to the public health... or is it? No matter what opinion you have on this issue, there is someone out there with facts that support it.
But the issue is much larger than just the current virus. Everything in the political world is being called into question; it seems like nobody believes anybody anymore and everyone is suspected of ulterior motives. Are immigrants coming into the US from Mexico to seek a better life for themselves and their families, or is it really just criminals bringing in drugs and abducting young girls? People are rioting because a black man was killed by a white police officer who used excessive force. Or are they? Some say the protests are peaceful, but criminals and white extremists are using it as an excuse to wreak havoc. Is the legal system inherently racist? There are strong indicators that it is, but then, when you look at the murder stats you see that blacks kill each other many many times more than whites kill blacks or blacks kill whites. So (to paraphrase something Joseph Smith said once) is any of them right, or are they all wrong together?
Taking all this into account, it seems like the perfect time to ask ourselves the question in this song's title: Oh, Say, What Is Truth?
This song has always been a favorite of my dad's. Recently I was doing some work on a web site for him and was inspired to create this as a little side project. It has a similar melody to the original hymn but the style and harmonies are quite different.
If you watch the lyric video, I have to give my sister-in-law Robyn credit for the photo with the silhouette of people watching the stars. (I'm one of the people in the photo.) Also, my daughter Kienna gets credit for the painting of stars with trees around the edges. It commemorates a campout we had at Hannigan meadow in central AZ.
Oh say, what is truth? 'Tis the fairest gem
That the riches of worlds can produce,
And priceless the value of truth will be when
The proud monarch's costliest diadem
Is counted but dross and refuse.
Yes, say, what is truth? 'Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
'Tis an aim for the noblest desire.
The sceptre may fall from the despot's grasp
When with winds of stern justice he copes.
But the pillar of truth will endure to the last,
And its firm-rooted bulwarks outstand the rude blast
And the wreck of the fell tyrant's hopes.
Then say, what is truth? 'Tis the last and the first,
For the limits of time it steps o'er.
Tho the heavens depart and the earth's fountains burst,
Truth, the sum of existence, will weather the worst,
Eternal, unchanged, evermore.
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