J.P. MorganIt Wasn't All J.P. Morgan's



William Dwight Porter Bliss

The Star-Spangled Banner (adapted to the situation)
From Hymns and Songs of Socialism for Social Meetings of the Church of the Carpenter, Boston 1893.

Oh, say can you see, by THE DAWN'S early light,
What so proudly we'll hail in the full day's glad beaming;
Those stripes and bright stars, which all through the night,
As we've battled for man, have above us been streaming.
     And the stars of the dawn, and the stripes of the morn,
     Give proof to the world that a new day is born!
     When the star-spangled banner no longer shall wave
     O'er the land of the rich, and the home of the slave.

Through the mist of the morn we can still see the day,
Where in peace and in joy Freedom's sunlight reposeth;
And toward it we'll march, though a world bid us stay,
Till we conquer for God every wrong that opposeth.
     And the millions unchained, who their birthright have gained,
     Will keep the bright blazon forever unstained.
      When the star-spangled banner no longer shall wave
     O'er the land of the rich, and the home of the slave.

Then up each true heart, and for God and for man,
Play bravely thy part, whate'er be thy station;
Till as brothers we stand in Fraternity's van,
At the glorious goal of each God-guided nation.
     For conquer we must, since our cause is most just,
     When our motto be truly "In God is our trust."
     When the star-spangled banner no longer shall wave
     O'er the land of the rich, and the home of the slave.

[THE DAWN was the name of Bliss' Christian Socialist journal, published from 1890-96]


Exsurgat Deus

from A Minstrel Friar, by Irwin St. John Tucker. Chicago, Ralph Fletcher Seymour, ©1949.

Irwin St John TuckerI went from the seminary with the idea that the proper function of a young priest was to go forth as a kind of Galahad, righting wrongs and challenging evil whenever it might rear its strongholds against the sky.

It did not take long to discover that this is not the prime requisite of a fledgling in the ministry of the Episcopal Church. What is required is some one to run the Sunday School and young people's society while visiting uninfluential families. . .

Offered the Sunday night service at St. Mark's in the Bouwerie, I conducted forums there under the name of the Socialist Pulpit. My first celebration of the Holy Communion in St. Mark's, on the Sunday night after ordination to the priesthood, was offered in commemoration of all the great ones, Christian or un-Christian, who had helped mankind know the truths that make men free. In that list were Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euclid, Galileo, Luther, John Wesley, St. John Chrysostom, Arnold of Brescia, John Ball of Kent, Charles Kingsley -- a company surely seldom brought together in the sacrifice of the altar. . .

I was filled with the importance of the coming General Convention of the Episcopal Church, to be held in New York that fall [1913]. It is a memorable triennial event, bringing clergy, bishops and lay missionaries from the corners of the earth.

Two multi-millionaires, J. Pierpont Morgan and R. Fulton Cutting, had built a stone Synod House on the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where I had been ordained. Their avowed purpose was to provide a place to house the General Convention; but their real motive, it appeared, was to assert their domination over the church that convention represented. Morgan sent a special train around much of the country, rounding up bishops for all the world like a cowpuncher rounding up cattle for the branding iron. The nation snickered at this humiliating spectacle, which was only a part of the general picture conveyed by the Episcopal Church of that day, as a rich man's pet, a society club. [So] I wrote the ballad Exsurgat Deus. . .

The first person to whom I read it was the little dancing artist in her studio on Ontario Street, in grimy Chicago. She knew far more than I about the industrial struggle. Her father had been a stone-cutter, her sister an official of the Chicago Federation of Labor, another brother an officer of the electricians union.

As other girls would have invited friends to parties, dances and evenings at the theater, she had invited me to mass meetings on behalf of strikers and refugees from Czarist Russia. Where most other folk seemed to think the combination of ministry and the revolution a terrible misfit, to her it seemed the most natural thing in the world. Of course -- why not? Christ was a carpenter, his apostles fishermen. He loved the common people, who heard him gladly: -- any friend of his must be in the fight for labor. This she took for granted.

She was at that time illustrator for a daily Socialist paper. All these things that had struck me with such novel violence a few years before had been her regular environment. Being Irish, she had learned that revolutions take a long time, and that horrors always occur in wars -- especially industrial wars.

Her approval of Exsurgat Deus was shared, it appeared, by the church in general, much to its own amazement. The Living Church printed it in heavy black Old English type, spread over two pages.

Every day during that usually stodgy Convention a soap-box mass meeting of the Church Socialist League was held in front of J. P. Morgan's synod hall. During those sessions the Church's department of social service was established. For these things the poem got a very fair share of credit:

     Arise, O God, in splendor!
       That all the world may see
     Like dust before the storm-wind
       Thy foes far-scattered flee . . .

     "Gather My saints together
       That sacrifice for troth,
     The Lord God hath a quarrel
       With them that sware His Oath.
     For if ye be partakers
       With usurer and thief,
     How can you preach My Covenant,
       Or stablish My belief?

     "If prophets preach by favor
       And make God out a liar;
     If shepherds bend to alien greed
       And hold their trust for hire,
     If priests profane my altar
       With gifts that reek of wrong,
     How shall they spread my Godpel
       Or lift My vengeance song?

     "No way but by a miracle
       May Dives win My door.
     Woe, woe upon your riches!
       My nation is the poor . . .

     "The hireling and the stranger
       My foes oppress in toil;
     The child they crush to labor,
       The widow they despoil --
     Take ye their cause for conflict
       Beneath My conquering sign;
     Preach ye the word I gave you,
       Else are ye none of Mine . . ."
       

I do not think J. Pierpont Morgan and R. Fulton Cutting liked it.

- - - - -

Irwin St. John Tucker went on to become Editor of the Christian Socialist, based in Chicago. Along with four other leaders of the Socialist Party, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison for speaking out against the First World War (which Tucker described as "a struggle between Germany's Berlin-to-Bagdad railroad and England's Suez Canal, with no more of idealism in it than a battle of cash registers.") The sentence was later overturned by the Supreme Court. Tucker gradually drifted out of radical politics, became rector of what became a rather eccentric little parish, and, as "Friar Tuck", ended up as a minor Chicago tourist attraction.

See also Socialism and Christianity in Early 20th Century America, ed. by Jacob H. Dorn, which has a chapter on the "sacramental socialism" of Tucker, as well as chapters on Bishop Spaulding of Utah and J.G. Phelps Stokes. -- Ted M.

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