“Just as Long as I Have Breath”

The gift of a song at the “right” time


Sometimes your first experience of a song can come at such a ripe, “right” time, it feels as if it were written expressly for you. The words seem to speak directly to you, and the state or space you’re currently in. Today that happened to me at church (www.uusf.org), thanks to the following hymn.

The entire song was beautifully relevant to me…but the third verse, in particular shot straight through to my heart. I am so thankful I attended the service. You just never know when a gift like this, including the entire rest of the beautiful and cohesive liturgy (crafted and led by recently ordained Denis Letourneau Paul and Lindasusan Ulrich), is going to come along. This inspiration is what drew me to become a member of the community a few years ago, and what keeps me going back.

After the service, I speedily went into the church office with hymnal in hand and asked them if I could make an (illegal) copy of it! Thankfully, the very helpful office asst. made me not one, but three copies. It’s not a text I would want to have lost track of! I hope you find it meaningful too.

As an aside, the other musical offerings, by Hans York, my favorite occasional music minister at our church were transcendent and joy-filled, as always. Enjoy samples of his music on iLike.

“Just as Long as I Have Breath”

Words by Alicia S. Carpenter (1930- )
Music by Johann G. Ebeling (1637-1676)

Just as long as I have breath, I must answer, “Yes,” to life;
though with pain I made my way, still with hope I meet each day.
If they ask what I did well, tell them I said, “Yes,” to life.

Just as long as vision lasts, I must answer, “Yes,” to truth;
in my dream and in my dark, always: that elusive spark.
If they ask what I did well, tell them I said, “Yes,” to truth.

Just as long as my heart beats, I must answer, “Yes,” to love;
disappointment pierced me through, still I kept on loving you.
If they ask what I did best, tell them I said, “Yes,” to love.

Words: © 1981 Alicia S. Carpenter

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1 comment so far

  1. Denis Letourneau Paul on

    thank you for your presence this morning, Paul, and for your kind words. I am glad that the liturgy of words and music were so meaningful for you. Whenever we get up on that chancel in front of the congregation, we never have a clue who will be moved.


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