A response to the French shootings: 7-9 January 2015*
Hopeless to help in this violence, this crisis,
here in the focus of bloodshed and fear,
common humanity binds us together,
love at the centre, not hatred's veneer.
Jewish and Christian and Muslim together,
all the world’s people, we each have a place.*
Love is our purpose when those filled with hatred
break down relationships, nullify grace.
Give me your hand, then let peace grow between us,
let us rebuild what distrust might destroy.
Now in this moment we'll make a commitment,
love is the weapon we'll use and deploy.
Words: Words: Andrew Pratt (born 1948) © 20 January 2015 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, www.stainer.co.uk. Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
* alternative lines for v.2 in light of shootings and bombings in Paris, 13 November 2015:
History repeats in a city of beauty,
here amid elegance: danger's embrace.
Love is our purpose...
© Andrew Pratt 13 November 2015
Suggested tune: Stewardship (StF 727i)
Symbols of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions
Ideas for use
These words were written in immediate response to the “Charlie Hebdo” shootings and sieges in Paris, 7-9 January 2015. However, Andrew Pratt’s reference to the three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) speaks not only of the violence on this occasion, and its stated cause; it also reminds us of the many countries and violent situations in our modern world in which the causes of religion are invoked as the inspiration for human actions and policies – often at the expense of those with other beliefs.
Sadly, therefore, there will be other occasions for which Andrew’s words are a pertinent response. They also stretch our thinking when we focus on Christian ecumenism (as during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, or the Women's World Day of Prayer): how may this help us converse with one voice with our sisters and brothers of other faiths?
See other StF Justice and Peace hymns, including Fred Kaan's For the healing of the nations (StF 696).
There are many available sources for information about the three Abrahamic faiths. This New World Encyclopedia entry is one helpful starting place.
Much has been written about the shootings in Paris in January 2015. One overview is given on the BBC website.
In addition, the journalist Robert Fisk reminds us that the causes of the violence in Paris are as much about complex political history as about religious fervour.