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For the Healing of the Nations

posted Nov 3, 2012, 12:16 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2013, 3:06 PM ]
Dr. Fred Kaan is known and honored throughout the world as a hymn writer.  Born in 1929 in Haarlem, The Netherlands, he lived through the Nazi occupation and witnessed the death of three grandparents from starvation.  He shared his feelings of these events with a pen-pal who encouraged him to begin discerning British Congregationalism, which eventually became the United Reformed Church.  Ordained in 1955, he started to write hymns early in his ministry, and his output grew steadily during his career, publishing five collections of hymns.  His texts have been translated into at least fifteen languages. 

In 1985, he reflected on For the Healing of the Nations saying, “Of all the hymns I have written, this is the text that has been more widely reprinted and incorporated in major hymnbooks than any other.  It was first used in 1965 in a worship service at the Pilgrim Church, Plymouth [where I was then serving as pastor], to mark Human Rights Day [Dec. 10].  Subsequently, it has been used on many official occasions, such as the 25th anniversary of the United Nations organization.”

If you look at the hymn text, the first stanza is a prayer for all nations and a pledge to a “just and equal sharing of the things that earth affords.”  The second verse continues to pray that we will be led “into freedom” – from “despair...war and hatred.”  The hymn concludes with the affirmation “that by our response and service Earth its destiny may find.”

No matter what country you live in, Dr. Kaan’s text expresses patriotism in Christian terms – to care for an inter-dependent world and to use political will, global influence and natural resources for the good of all humanity in seeking justice and abundant living for all.