July 3 – O Canada – the forgotten 4th verse

July 3, 2019 Randy Bushey

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea (Psalm 72:8).

Ours is a nation that was built on a worldview that acknowledged the existence and sovereign power of the God of the Bible.

This is evidenced by verses of Scripture engraved into the Gothic structure of our Parliament Buildings, including these texts engraved over the exterior arched windows of the central Peace Tower:

-above the East window: He shall have dominion also from sea to sea (Psalm 72:8).

-above the South window: Give the King thy judgment, O God, and thy righteousness unto the King’s son (Psalm 72:1).

-above the West window: Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

If not engraved into the very stone as a permanent testimony of the convictions of our forbears, would it now be removed as anachronistic? As a religious nod to narrow beliefs of another era? As embarrassingly out-of-step with Canadian 21st century thinking?

Many of us were surprised to discover that our beloved Canadian national anthem has multiple verses. In fact, it was difficult to find verse 4 – probably for reasons of political correctness – on any official Government of Canada website.

Here’s the story: O Canada, originally written in French, was crafted into an English lyric by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. Subsequent edits were made and the 4th verse added in 1926, subsequently becoming the generally accepted anthem in English-speaking Canada.

After a protracted process initiated by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson that began in 1964, it was not until much later that the familiar first verse of the song was officially declared as our national anthem via the National Anthem Act of 1980.

But the 4th verse is unique – and eternal in its perception.

We sang that largely forgotten 4th verse together as a congregation last Sunday for our annual Canada Day service.

Those expressions served as a foundation of worship and celebration – and as a congregational prayer – proclaiming:

1) an assertion of the sovereignty of God,

2) an appeal for God’s loving protection of our Dominion, and

3) a resolved anticipation of that better, greater, more righteous eternal Kingdom of Christ.

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion within thy loving care;
Help us to find, O God, in thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better Day,
We ever stand on guard.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Takeaway: As Canadians who recognize that our eternal God ultimately will weave the decisions of human government to support His definitive plans and purposes, let’s continue to pray for our nation and its rulers.

And let’s commit to living out the Gospel, living out a worldview that recognizes that human government’s authority is ultimately delegated by God. In that way, government authority is derived, dependent, and contingent on the Sovereign One.

The Gospel anticipates the Cosmic King who will rule His universal kingdom in righteousness and truth. Therefore, we are looking for:

A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better Day,
We ever stand on guard.