All Will Be Well | a song from worship

All Will Be Well | a song from worship

This past Sunday, Gord Johnson led us in singing one of his original songs for worship, “All Will be Well.” As we were singing, it occurred to me that some in the congregation might be finding that repeated line, “All will be well” a bit on the optimistic side, perhaps even blithely so. Isn’t it a bit naïve to repeatedly sing that all will be well, and to sound as if we actually believed it? And that on a Sunday on which the sermon emphasized that often the claim and call that God places on us is pretty challenging, calling us way out of our zones of comfort and control.

Behind Gord’s song is a famous quote from the writings of a fourteenth-century mystic and theologian, Julian of Norwich. In her one book, The Revelations of Divine Love, Julian reflects on a series of sixteen visions or “showings” that she received over two days in 1373. In The Revelations, Julian writes of how at the age of thirty she experienced these visions, and then shortly thereafter moved permanently into a cell attached to the parish church of St. Julian and St. Edward in Coniston, England. In everything God revealed to her, Julian wrote, “Love was our Lord’s meaning. And I saw for certain, both here and elsewhere, that before ever he made us, God loved us, and that his love has never slackened, nor ever shall.”

It was in light of this that she could write her most famous line, “Sin is behovely, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” That word “behovely” means something between “necessary” and “inevitable,” and what she is saying here is that sin simply is a part of the world as we know it. Sin is a source of pain and suffering, yet it is can also be a path to self-knowledge, in that insofar as we become aware of our own brokenness and failings, we may well be moved to seek God.

Yet Julian is clear that sin will not have the final say, for in God “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” As she saw in her first vision—in which God held out to her what appeared to be a hazelnut, which she realized symbolized the whole of the created universe—“the world exists, both now and for ever, because God loves it… everything owes its existence to the love of God.” Her posture, then, is not one of naïveté or of shallow optimism, but rather it is one of foundational trust.

And it is that kind of trust that informs Gord’s song.

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You, know in your heart, know in your mind,
  know that it’s true
There comes a day when all will be well
All will be well
Though now we may see, only in part, not very clearly
Maybe not now, but there comes a day
When all will be well
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
            Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia
                        All will be well
                        All will be well
You, you’re not alone, you’re part of a people,
  under the grace
Under the mercy, carried by love
And all will be well
So go into the world, walk in the light, walk in forgiveness
Knowing the hope, glorious hope
That all will be well
We, go in the name, the name of the Father,
  the name of the Son
The name of the Spirit, knowing our part
And all will be well
He will do so much more, than we can ask,
  than we can imagine
Glory to God, glory to God
All will be well
(words and music © Gord Johnson)

One Response to All Will Be Well | a song from worship

  1. Colleen Peters says:

    How good to know this background to the lovely song we sang on Sunday.
    I smiled to myself as we sang the words “and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well” because I’ve quoted these words on more than one occasion, and they’ve been foundational in my world view since I first heard them years ago.
    But until now, I’ve never known about the “Sin is behovely” phrase … which, I think, augments the effect of Julian’s words in their entirety. So thanks for the thought -provoking comments about the pervasiveness of sin, and the power of God’s love.

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