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Worldwide Worship

Prayers Song & Poetry

Worldwide Worship
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Drawn from classical and religious texts, as well as the work of poets and other artists, Worldwide Worship is a unique celebration of worship found in many religious traditions. These selections have been chosen singularly and as a group by John Marks Templeton, not only for their individual aesthetic beauty, but also to assist us in learning various lessons of life.
From this rich mixture of prayer, song, and poetry comes a confirmation of the life-affirming universality of the human spirit. Together these works celebrate the universal principles found in the human mind, and attempt to bridge the gaps between religions, cultures, and peoples of the world.

Templeton Press; January 2008
289 pages; ISBN 9781890151737
Read online, or download in secure PDF format
Excerpt
One of the main guidelines of the programs of the John Templeton Foundation can be described as the “theology of humility.”The theology of humility is not man-centered but God-centered. It proposes that the infinite God may not even be adequately describable in human words and concepts and may not be restricted by human rationality. Perhaps God is not limited by our senses or by our perceptions of three dimensions in space or one dimension in time.Perhaps there was no absolute beginning and there will be no absolute end, but only everlasting change and variety in the unlimited purposes, freedom, and creativity of God. Humility can be a key to progress.We know so little and need to learn so much. Inasmuch as every person’s concept of God is too small, through humility and a sincere desire to learn we can begin to realize the infinity of God.We can also become more understanding and loving of ourselves and of our fellow human beings on life’s educational journey. My purpose in assembling this collection of poems, prayers, prose, and hymns from various world cultures and religions is to share some of the works of inspiration that I find especially beautiful or affecting that can assist us in learning various lessons of life. Human nature seems to be such that both children and adults can better remember when worshipful concepts are expressed in these avenues.Many of these selections express the vastly larger concepts of God suggested by humility in theology. One may wonder, what profit is found in studying the wisdom passed along to us? Why not simply live from day to day, taking things as they come? One answer is that our stay on planet Earth is a brief one and the time we are given to educate ourselves is all too short. For each person to grow spiritually, it is important to learn from others who may be wiser than we are. From excellent writers we can come to realize the impact of even a small gesture, word, or action upon our self or another person, upon our community, and, yes, even upon our world. There can also be comfort in reading inspired thoughts from the great thinkers and writers from various cultures and religious perspectives. These timeless formulas can form a bridge of enlightenment and enhanced awareness between today’s reader and those faithful souls who literally “put their hearts on paper”! Many passages selected for this book have numerous applications for thoughts for daily living.The words that can provide us with hope, inspiration, courage, consolation, consideration, joy, happiness, and perhaps a greater awareness of love come from all faiths and represent writers from various periods of history. In a variety of ways these writers present a message that God is love, always ready to radiate that love and wisdom throughout all of Creation. At this present moment, the human race, even after thousands of years, is still at the dawn of new creation. This is both tremendously exciting and an awe-inspiring responsibility! It is my hope that you, the reader,may draw inspiration and enthusiasm from these words and that perhaps some special passage may point the way toward a brighter,more useful,and meaningful future for you and others worldwide. One thing we can learn from these wise writings is the power of prayers.One meaning of the term prayer is “to trap a thought.” As one holds a thought it can become a state of mind or a generally held attitude.A personal, cultural, or spiritual approach to prayer relates to a concept of God and God’s creative process. Regardless of what you do in life—enrolling in college, starting a business, buying stock, preparing a tax return, buying a home, having a tooth extracted, getting a job—you can do it better if you start with prayer. And let your prayer be that God will use you as a conduit for His love and wisdom. Let the words you speak and the actions you take be in harmony with God’s purpose. Prayer can assist in creating an attitude from which true faith and conviction can grow.Many traditions have taught men and women to go beyond words into “the Silence”—a place of spiritual communion much deeper and more delicate to the soul than mere words. Poetry has always held a proud place in the great pantheon of literature.Through the writings of the poet, the voices from all aspects of life ring loud and clear. In some instances, the sonorous meter, the proliferation of descriptive imagery, and the gentle didactic tones seemingly bespeak an uncomplicated muse. Poems are important because they push beyond the simplifications we use every day. One person can say to another,“I love you.”And what is really meant by the words? One simple phrase is being used to label a thousand different sensations! One poem that I enjoy and included in this volume is “A Psalm of Life”by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It is subtitled, “What the heart of the young man said to the Psalmist.” Food for thought! Down through the ages the poet spoke . . . and the people listened. They are listening still! Hymns from the world religions are filled with inspirational literature. One of my favorites is “Take Time to Be Holy.” The soothing melody and gentle words of this beautiful hymn can be a precious reminder of the importance of “putting first things first” in our lives. Some hymns are so powerful and touch us in such a way that even the most mundane detail of our lives can become an encounter with the ultimate.They can be tremendous teaching aids as well as a source of pleasure and solace. Although the words of the hymns presented in this book are memorable, combining them in context with their music lends an even greater meaning to their message. When the written word is expressed without bias, it can often paint a magnificent panorama of aspirations, inspirations, and, perhaps, universal guidance. Ideas of giving and receiving, understanding the power of the mind, experiencing the richness of living the spiritual life through prayer and praise, developing a humble attitude—all these things, and more, can be powerful building blocks in the foundation of a fulfilled and productive existence on earth. And being open to learning about the cultural and religious traditions of people whose beliefs may differ from ours can help us see that there are many valid paths to the Divine. So let us lead a compassionate life by transcending the demands of the clamorous ego and recognizing the sacredness in others and in all of life. At the end of the book is a first-line index, a key-word index, an author index, and an acknowledgment of sources. Poems, prayers, prose, and hymns! Take your time with this book—assimilate its words, ideas, and messages into your heart, soul, mind, and body; into your rest, relaxation, and meditation; into your worship ceremonies; into your relationships; into your ambitions, work, and play. Let the meaning of the words presented here flow over your soul, opening perhaps new avenues of awareness as you attune your mind to the rhythm of the cosmos. In doing this, you can be moved into a healthier, happier, richer, and more adventurous and purposeful way of living.And may you know that . . . God loves you, and I do, too!