One of my favorite hymns about peace begins:
Years are coming — speed them onward!
When the sword shall gather rust,
And the helmet, lance, and falchion,
Sleep at last in silent dust!
This hymn has mostly been reprinted in Universalist and Unitarian Universalist hymnals, and it is usually attributed to the Universalist minister Adin Ballou, who founded the utopian Hopedale community in Milford, Massachusetts, in 1842. Ballou and the members of the Hopedale community were believers in women’s rights and abolition and temperance and education and pacifism. Recently, while I was researching family history, I discovered that my mother’s great-grandparents Nathan Chapman and Hepzibah Whipple left the utopian Rogerenes of Ledyard, Conn., to join the nearby utopian Hopedale community in Massachusetts; and their daughter Jeannette was married in Hopedale to her husband Richard Congdon by none other than Rev. Adin Ballou; and though by the time of this marriage the Hopedale community had gone bankrupt, the spirit of the community lived on in the Hopedale Unitarian church of which Ballou was the minister.
Not only did this family history help explain why I’m a feminist, pacifist, educator, and utopian dreamer, but I decided it must explain why I like this hymn so much.
Except that Adin Ballou didn’t write this hymn.Continue reading “The mystery of the misattributed hymn”