The Locker Room

June 12, 2004

On that beautiful anthem played during the recessional Friday

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:30 PM

Among the many powerful, moving moments of the Reagan funeral was the anthem and dirge that was playing during the recessional. I haven't been able to get that music out of my mind since I heard it — it arrested me from the start. As I was to learn, I wasn't the only one so affected.

This evening I searched the web to find out what it was, and I succeeded: here is a .pdf file listing all the music played during the service, including the lyrics. The specific anthem I was looking for is called "The Mansions of the Lord." I think it is appropriate to list the lyrics here:

To fallen soldiers, let us sing,
Where no rockets fly or bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord.

No more bleeding, no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night,
Just divine embrace, eternal light
In the Mansions of the Lord.

Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand and guard though the angels sleep
All through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord.

This hymnic music was written in 2002 — for the Mel Gibson movie "We Were Soldiers" (text by Randall Wallace, music by Nick Glennie-Smith). The dirge following the anthem was also from the movie, according to's timely reviewers.

Considering Gibson's own passion for the Lord and for human liberty, how perfectly fitting that this "movie music" graced the National Cathedral in awe-inspiring tribute to "just an actor" who became the Great Liberator.

One other thing I'd like to add, concerning the music played in Reagan's honor: Immediately preceding "The Mansions of the Lord" was the hymn "Sing with All the Saints in Glory," which is sung to the tune of "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Hearing that, I couldn't help remembering that in December 1989, Leonard Bernstein conducted an all-star orchestra and chorus in Berlin in performing Beethoven's Ninth to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Bernstein used a discredited old legend concerning the "Ode to Joy" text by Friedrich von Schiller — that it was originally conceived as an "Ode to Freedom" — to make the concert indeed an "Ode to Freedom."

In the liner notes provided by Deutsche Grammophon for its live recording of this concert, Bernstein wrote:

legend or not, I feel this is a heaven-sent moment to sing "Freiheit" [Freedom] wherever the score indicates the word "Freude" [Joy]. If ever there was a historic time to take an academic risk in the name of human joy, this is it, and I am sure we have Beethoven's blessing.

Knowing the history and the sheer human joy of the moment, which Reagan memorably helped to bring about, I always get goosebumps when the chorus bursts forth with "Freiheit schöner Götterfunken" [Freedom, bright spark of divinity]. This, too, was perfectly fitting music for the moment.

And upon reflection, "Sing with All the Saints in Glory" proclaims an even greater freedom.

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Posted by Andrew Cline at 1:39 PM

I was trying to figure out why people were protesting the G-8 summit (After all, they aren't saying "no G-8 summit!" They are saying, "No G-8!"), when I found this image from last year's anti-G8 protests. It says it all.

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On babies, bathwater, and tax funds for nonprofits

Posted by John Hood at 12:24 AM

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Ruth Samuelson makes some good points about when taxpayer financing of nonprofits is appropriate and why it is possible to like charities but deny them public funds. Here’s a nugget:

While some of the organizations receiving taxpayer funds fall into the "privatized services" category, others are simply recipients of funds provided at the discretion of the board of county commissioners. Depending on your perspective, you may think of this funding as extending county services, charitable giving or pork barrel spending. Either way, it diverts money away from the core responsibilities of the county and from the pockets of the taxpayers.


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The return of the Religious Left?

Posted by John Hood at 08:59 AM

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting piece about Democratic attempts to rejuvenate the elements of the old “Religious Left” that powered past movements for civil rights and other causes. Party leaders believe that ceding those with deep spiritual values to the Republicans has hurt Democratic prospects in many areas of the country over the past three decades. Some of the quotes in the article are truly forehead-smacking, like this one from Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College:

“There wasn't sufficient recognition [among Democrats] that if a person had qualms about abortion, it may be because they had serious religious beliefs and not because they were opposed to women's rights.”

The Monitor lists North Carolina as one of the states where an improvement in the Democratic pitch towards religious voters might tip the balance of some races this year. There’s also a key insight from Democratic pollster Celinda Lake that the “religion gap” faced by Democrats is twice as large as the “gender gap” that the GOP is said to suffer.

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