…the wide universe is the ocean I travel 

As with many “separatist” denominations, Unitarianism stretches back to the 16th Century.  But it didn’t get rolling’ round these New England parts until just after the American Revolution, when the once Anglican King’s Chapel in Boston (first gathered in 1686) officially accepted the Unitarian faith in 1785; a sensible move all things considered.

By then most New England congregations had evolved from Calvinist orthodoxy into a more Congregational Christianity but religious change remained in the air and many a spired church house housed a riven flock. While some still held to Trinitarianism (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) others asserted a unitary belief in God, hence Unitarianism.

By the time Harvard University (founded by Congregationalists) had become a bastion of Unitarian training in 1825, village greens throughout New England were seeing the building of new churches, sometimes Unitarian, sometimes Trinitarian, depending upon who got to keep the silverware.  It’s a squabble that continues.  While I’m a Unitarian-Universalist, my father was Congregationalist.  Then again his father was Unitarian.

Early Unitarians did not hold Universalist beliefs (which were specific about rejecting the Puritan emphasis of eternal damnation and instead asserted that “all are universally saved”).  But over time the two theologies grew to become nearly identical, with an emphasis on keeping “an open mind to the religious questions people have struggled with in all times and places” and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was formed in 1961.

Some creditable individuals can be identified as being Unitarian or Universalist (or Unitarian-Universalist), including: John Adams, Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, Louisa May Alcott, Ethan Allen, Susan B. Anthony, Bela Bartok, Clara Barton, Charles Bulfinch, E.E. Cummings, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Buckminster Fuller, Horace Greeley, Linus Pauling, Florence Nightingale, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Elliott, Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Jefferson, W.M. Kiplinger, John Locke, Paul Newman, Christopher Reeve, Paul Revere, Malvina Reynolds, Arthur Schlesinger, Pete Seeger, Rod Serling, Kurt Vonnegut, William Carlos Williams, Frank Lloyd Wright…and today’s artist, Peter Mayer.

Based in Minnesota, Mayer studied Theology and music in college and served as a church music director for eight years, while performing at clubs and colleges, and writing and recording his own music.  He began to tour full time in 1995 and has since released nine CDs, having sold over 70 thousand copies of them independently. Today’s selection from his 2002 album, Earth Town Square, is now found in the UU hymnal supplement “Singing the Journey”


Blue Boat Home

Though below me, I feel no motion

Standing on these mountains and plains

Far away from the rolling ocean

Still my dry land heart can say

I’ve been sailing all my life now

Never harbor or port have I known

The wide universe is the ocean I travel

And the earth is my blue boat home

 Sun, my sail, and moon my rudder

As I ply the starry sea

Leaning over the edge in wonder

Casting questions into the deep

Drifting here with my ship’s companions

All we kindred pilgrim souls

Making our way by the lights of the heavens

In our beautiful blue boat home

 I give thanks to the waves upholding me

Hail the great winds urging me on

Greet the infinite sea before me

Sing the sky my sailor’s song

I was born upon the fathoms

Never harbor or port have I known

The wide universe is the ocean I travel

And the earth is my blue boat home

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