At the YDS chapel service for Ash Wednesday we sang the following hymn, penned by Thomas Troeger, Professor of Christian Communication at the Divinity School. It was deeply affecting, and the text is worth reflecting on as we continue through the Lenten season.
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All Things of Dust to Dust Return
By Thomas Troeger
All things of dust to dust return
on earth and in the sky.
The hottest, brightest suns that burn
in time grow dim and die.
The fish that leap, the birds that soar,
the newborn young that play,
the leaves that fill the forest floor
revert to dust and clay.
Lord, mark with dust and ash my brow
so I may comprehend
that every moment here and now
links me to that same end
I share with all that breathe and burn,
that flare and fade and tire
yet by their waning light discern
your own undying fire.
Lord, make upon my brow this sign:
a stark and barren cross
reminding me that though divine
you know my pain and loss,
and at the touch of dust and ash
awake my heart to view
how death itself is but a flash
that dies away in you.