Song: “Holy Cross at 125”

hilo-japanes-christian-church-1891Author’s Note: I wrote this song for the celebration lunch of the Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i, which was founded in 1891 to serve newly arriving immigrants from Japan. Most of them came as contract workers, spending 3 years on a sugar plantation and returning home (or staying and making the Big Island their home). Originally known as the “Japanese Christian Church,” the congregation took a new name in 1942.

I wrote and perform this song on ukulele, by the way.

They followed the summons of a man across the sea
To plant and to weed and to cut
Some returned to their homelands, some stayed in Hawai’i
And with them, the cultures of Japan.

When Jiro Okabe came to serve in Hilo Bay
He led a new church from his home.
He gathered the Workers Mutual Aid Society
To bring good works to the town.

[Chorus]

They had a vision
To bring good news to the poor
They had a mission
To bring good news to the poor
Poor in substance. Poor in spirit.
Poor in hope. Poor in dreams.
They had a vision.
They brought good news.

The sands of time flowed and the Christian Church grew
They took as their name Holy Cross
Through war and tsunami they lived out their hope
To raise up the lowly and lost.

[Chorus]

We march to remember those whom illness forgets
We help the poor build new homes.
We care for the dying and for the hungry
We worship the God of All.

As each era offers its challenges and change
We look ahead in awe:
A world beckons there both familiar and strange.
There we hear Christ’s call.

To have a vision
To bring good news to the poor
To have a mission
To bring good news to the poor
Poor in justice. Poor in freedom.
Poor in faith. Poor in deeds.
We need a vision…

Let’s seize a vision
To bring good news to the poor
Let’s seize a mission
To bring good news to the poor
Poor in substance. Poor in spirit.
Poor in hope. Poor in dreams.
Let’s seize the vision.
Let’s bring good news.

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