The Origin and Meaning of our School Song
For many, many years the students and staff at Canterbury Christian School have embraced the hymn, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” as our school song. It is frequently rehearsed at chapel services and at school events. The thrust of its meaning can be found in Psalm 22:4, “Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.” At Canterbury, we recognize that God is at work in the lives of his saints throughout all of Christian history. From the Incarnation of the Son of God and his Holy Apostles through the ages, the Church has survived through the faithful obedience of men and women baptized into His one body.
As we prepare our children for their next stage of education, we hope to instill the idea that whatever their chosen vocation – whether they be doctors, lawyers, mothers, or carpenters – above all, they are called to be saints serving the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. As we sing this hymn, we are reminded that saints not only lived in the distant past but also may live and work today as they carry out the everyday activities of their lives.
The Hymn Writer and All Saints’ Day
The hymn’s writer Lesbia Scott wrote it specifically for children to sing on the Feast of All Saints, commonly referred to as All Saints’ Day. All Saints Day is a holiday to commemorate all the faithful departed from this life into the life everlasting. Continuing in this tradition, Rev. Norman Milbank made the hymn “I sing a song of the saints of God” the official theme song for Canterbury’s All Saints’ Day Parade. Scott’s hymns were first published in England in Everyday Hymns for Little Children (1929) and in the United States in the Episcopal Hymnal 1940 as hymn #243.
I sing a song of the saints of God,
patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died
for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green:
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too
They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
and God’s love made them strong;
and they followed the right, for Jesus’ sake,
the whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
and one was slain by a fierce wild beast:
and there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
why I shouldn’t be one too.
They lived not only in ages past;
there are hundreds of thousands still;
the world is bright with the joyous saints
who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
in church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
for the saints of God are just folk like me,
and I mean to be one too.