I’d like to teach the world to sing

This article is from the Spring/Summer issue of Reflections magazine, the printed counterpart to this blogsite. Read the entire issue online by clicking here. Read more about prayer by clicking here. Current subscribers should receive their printed magazine by May 11. If you are not receiving the printed magazine and would like to (there is no charge), send your request to barbara.duffield@dwtx.org.

By Marjorie George

Do you remember the Coca Cola tv commercial from the early 70’s that pictured several dozen wholesome young people from around the world — young people from all nationalities and all colors and all ethnic groups – standing on a hilltop and singing together “I’d like to teach the world to sing”? It was an ad that just made you feel good, made you smile, made you want to be nice to your neighbor – better even than Christmas. All over the world, implied the ad, people were being brought together by Coke, their voices joined, their harmony lifting to the heavens.

Now take the Coke bottle out of the kids’ hands, put rosaries in some, Bibles in others, prayer books over there, kids in yarmulkes just here. That’s my image of what happens every day when around the world the faithful are at prayer. As the sun moves across the earth, someone is always approaching his prayer bench and someone is always ending his prayers. The voice of God’s people is ever before him, ever imploring his mercy, ever praising him. Like a river that circles the world, we dip into this stream as we open our prayer books and as we close them. I never need fear that my prayers are not heard; for someone, somewhere, is always at prayer, and my meager stammerings join a throng that is never silenced.

Monastics, monks and nuns around the world, are ever at prayer. In Western culture, we are prone to undervalue this, seeing them as alone at prayer in their cells, producing nothing tangible.

But “the monk departs far from the world not because he hates it, but because he loves it,” explains the website Monachos.net, a site dedicated to monastic and liturgical study.  “In this way he will, through his prayer, help the world more in those matters that are, being humanly impossible, only possible by God’s intervention.” For the sake of the world, monastics separate themselves from the rest of the world in order to pray unceasingly for the world.

Imagine those satellite photos of the earth turning, the light — that we behold as sunrise and sunset – moving with the rotation. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer roll over the earth without ceasing: prayers for mercy, prayers for healing, prayers for God’s intervention in his world, prayers for you and prayers for me.

Apart from this kinship, we can never “pray without ceasing,” as St. Paul admonishes (1 Thessalonians 5.17). As part of it, we are never not in the presence of The Almighty. The song continues, and our voices join in.

Bonus for reading this far:  See the Coke ad on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib-Qiyklq-Q  Read the story of how the ad came to be at http://www.thecoca-colacompany.com/heritage/cokelore_hilltop.html.  

Marjorie George is the editor of ReflectionsOnline and Reflections the magazine. Reach her at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.


4 thoughts on “I’d like to teach the world to sing”

  1. What a great visual this is! The scripture says our prayers are ever before the throne of God but this helps to take me there. Thank you Marjorie, HEG

    1. When I realized that my prayers join the ongoing prayers of the faithful all over the world all the time, it changed how I pray. thanks for your thoughts – Marjorie

  2. Bishop Theophan the Recluse said, “Prayer is the test of everything; prayer is the source of everything; prayer is the driving force of everything; prayer is also the director of everything. If prayer is right, everything is right.”

    1. Yes, and we have been accustomed to thinking of prayer as only one part of our spiritual journey, when it is every part of the journey. Thanks for your thoughts. – Marjorie

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