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Monday, May 15, 2006

God of Concrete, God of Steel

A kind commenter to my post of two days ago mentioned the hymn, "God of Concrete, God of Steel," and a second commenter then commented on that. As my blog responses go, that's a landslide. Thanks, gentlemen! I should have thought of it myself, as this poem is very relevant to the topic of that post.

As the title suggests, the words to this poem/hymn are about how God is Lord even of human creations. In case you have never thought about it before, concrete and steel are not natural. That is, they don't occur in nature. They are man-made materials. God, of course, provided the raw materials, and allowed some human to invent, and I suppose, other humans to refine these components of modern life to their present usefulness and ubiquity. Therefore, God is Lord even of these, as much as He is Lord of iron ore or sand.

I don't believe that the poem is old enough to have reached public domain (the word "freeway" occurs in it!) so I won't quote more than the title/first line. I will say that the first three stanzas mention many of the creations or concerns of technology, but the final one is on the power and love of God. It's a good poem!

This may be inappropriate, given what I said about copyright and these words, but, since anyone interested will probably do a Google search for it anyway, I'll go ahead and provide a link to a blogger who has posted all the words. As he suggests, it may be sung to several tunes, including the most common one for "Rock of Ages." (References in his post and the comments to the Dover, Pennsylvania, school board have to do with a recent court case wherein the teaching of Intelligent Design was mandated by this body. The board lost that case.)

I'm not going to waken my wife by rummaging through a bookcase at this hour to check, but I'm pretty sure that this hymn is in what was once the official hymnal of The Wesleyan Church, and one or more kindred bodies, namely Hymns of Faith and Life (Light and Life Press & The Wesley Press (1976)).

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

That is fascinating.
I've never seen a modern hymn like that, connected to our everyday particulars.

Anonymous said...


You might also be interested in some of the recent news coverage of the Vatican's astronomer, who also gave a pretty interesting interview to Astrobiology Magazine a couple years ago.

AM: And how did you come to work for the Vatican?

GC: Long story. I'd been an astronomer for 15 years before I decided to enter the Jesuits. And I did my undergraduate work at MIT and my doctorate at Arizona. And at one point I wondered why was I wasting my time doing astronomy when people are starving in the world - a little voice of conscience.

So I joined the Peace Corps. While I was there, I discovered that I loved teaching. But mostly I discovered that the people in Africa, the people in Kenya, where I was, wanted to know about astronomy. That's what they wanted from me. And they were as fascinated and as excited about it as I was, as anyone in America.

And I understood then why it's important. It's one of those things that makes us more than just well-fed cows. It satisfies a really deep hunger to know, to go someplace, to explore. And that is a hunger that is as human, as basic to human beings as food and shelter and anything else. And it's denied to a person only at the cost of denying them their humanity. By telling poor people, "No, no, you have to go hunt for food, you can't do astronomy," you are saying that they're less than human. And that's wrong. And it's a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

The Concrete hymn is in the Anglican Church of Canada hymnbook, which I believe is or was shared with the United Church of Canada. (They incorporated the Canadian Methodists.)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post.

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you all for the comments!

johnboy said...

I love this song - and thanks so much for this post. Also, I have written a tune to God of Concrete that can be found here:

I believe this song is one of the best modern hymns that I've heard.


John Pettit

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you, John Pettit.

Scott Wells said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Wells said...

[Let's try that again.]

Very sad was lost to a very different kind of site. (If you go, prepare for an eyeful.)

Does anyone have a copy of the mp3 and the pdf, or contact info for the original site's owner?

many thanks --

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Scott. Too bad about that.

Martin LaBar said...

P. S.

I have no such information. Sorry.

Kevinwrlc said...

The Concrete hymn is in the Anglican Church of Canada hymnbook, which I believe is or was shared with the United Church of Canada. (They incorporated the Canadian Methodists.)

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Kevinwrlc!

αφίλητος said... is up again
I don't know since when or for how long!
You can also check here:

Unknown said...

In the military service Hymnal it is sung to ARFON MINOR.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for the information.