We Are One in the Spirit


Dear Reader:

The Sunday I did the Children’s Message at church we sang one of my favorite hymns….”We Are One in the Spirit.

It was the hymn of response in our service following the sermon. As I was (rather off-key) singing happily along…I noticed some information about the history of the song at the bottom of the page.

When we sat back down…I began to read the details about the song and the story intrigued me. It was written in the middle of the sixties Civil Rights Movement by a parish priest who was very involved in the movement.

The year was 1966. The priest’s name was Peter Scholtes…a parish priest at St. Brendan’s on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960’s.  He worked with the youth choir and he knew that there was an urgent need to find a song that the young people could sing at ecumenical, interracial events.

A song that revealed what their church’s stance was on the Civil Rights Movement. He searched for several weeks for the right combination of the (then) popular folk music style that, also, encompassed simple but powerful lyrics of universal acceptance that could be used at (the increasingly sought-after) folk masses.

Finding nothing, he wrote the song in a single day.

Soon after it was performed by his youth choir;  it quickly became the companion to “We Shall Overcome“…the mantra of the Civil Rights Movement.

One woman, who was a youth at St. Brendan’s in the sixties and who was one of the first to sing the song… later passed down a poignant story that she shared with her son about the first night it was sung….

The youth choir, unknowing to Scholtes, decided to change one word in the lyrics and it brought tears of joy to their choir leader (and composer) during the performance.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love

When the choir got to the third line that read…”And we pray that all unity may one day be restored” the choir changed the words… from one day…to THIS DAY and sang it out loudly!.

(Earlier the youth had discussed the possibility that people opposed to the civil rights movement might use “one day” to mean in the next world…but not here and not now.)


This incident reminded me that there is a story behind every thing in life…if we take time to look for it. 

So until tomorrow….Let us take time to listen to the lyrics behind “We Are One in the Spirit” and remind ourselves of the important message of universal acceptance and unity… as all  God’s Children. All we need is love!!

They’ll Know We Are Christians Peter Scholtes 1966 …

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

* Sad news from Tommy and Kaitlyn…they went to Chattanooga for Kailtyn’s best friend’s wedding this weekend and took the “three little men”– Rudy, Atticus, and Pip with them.

Kaitlyn had set up an appointment with Rudy’s vet (who performed the surgery on him last year) for his annual check-up and sadly the tumor has returned and the prognosis isn’t good.

Then Pip  suddenly got sick, after their arrival, and the vet thinks it might be a neurological disorder.*Please say a prayer for Tommy and Kaitlyn and their “Three Little Amigos.” Thank you! They are all a part of the family!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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