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Scots in Argentina
Their Succeeding Race

Psalm 137, verse 4.ó"How shall we sing the Lordís song in a strange land."


(Preached in St. Andrews on 8th March 1931, on the occasion of the opening of the British Exhibition. Service attended by T.R.H. the Prince of Wales and Prince George, with members of their suite; H.B.M. Ambassador and Lady Macleay; Lord Dudley Gordon; Sir Herbert Gibson, Bart. Chairman of the Exhibition, and by officials of the British Community. Lessons read by Mr. Ronald Drysdale, President of the St. Andrewís Society, and Mr. James Smith, Chairman of St. Andrewís Scots School. Service broadcast by Radio Excelsior.)

The singer of this pensive song was a man who had been through the soul-searching experience of being a prisoner of war, and an exile in a foreign land. He belonged, like many a one here, to a land of mountains and glens. His captivity had been spent in a flat country of innumerable and placid canals, bordered with willows and poplars. How unlike to his hills of home and their mountain torrents! How could he sing the Lordís song in so strange a land?

When he spoke thus, he had returned to his native and beloved city. And in passing it is supremely worthy of note that his heart, as he viewed his forlorn home, was much more deeply touched by the damage done to the city of God than by any personal loss he had sustained. His breed is a distinguished one.

The similarities between the case of this singer 2500 years ago and that of many of us are striking enough. How shall we sing the Lordís song in a strange land?

And yet it is our bounden duty, as also our high privilege, to acknowledge that we here ó by descent mostly of one race, but actually by birth Argentine, English, Scots, Irish, North American and others ó to acknowledge that we here worship God with complete religious liberty. We owe it to this friendly country to remind ourselves of this audibly and in no halting tones. This (to quote the Psalmist) may be a strange land to us; but this land has never made us feel like strangers.

How then shall we sing the Lordís song? What shall we sing? What contribution of moral and spiritual worth can we offer beneath the blue skies of this great country?

Daniel kept his windows open towards Jerusalem.

The Mohammedan kneels towards Mecca.

We have eyes that often strain across 6000 miles of sea to "the lone shieling of the misty island". And there are still some old sanctities there for which I would humbly plead.

1. Here is one of them: "Honour thy father and thy mother."

It is not likely that a man who forgets his father and mother will ever do much, to honour his fatherís God.

Cast your memory back and you will recall men (perchance your father was of them) ó thrifty men who sacrified their all that you might have what none could steal from you ever ó a good education ó men who could die but who could not lie ó men in whose presence the foul word was an impossibility and the mean intention an outrage. And women (perchance your mother was amongst them) ó women who toiled and moiled for you ó read stories to you ó prayed for you ó pinched themselves for you nursed you back from the edge of the abyss when the torch was flickering. Is there one soul here, or listening in to this Service, who has been forgetting the old home or dishonouring its teaching? Let todayís setting sun see the golden chain mended ó that letter written, that debasing habit faced and fought ó that unworthy companionship ended.

II. Here in another old sanctity: Keep in touch with your Church, whichever and wherever it be.

How often have we seen a young man from home arrive in this teeming city, and begin by being present at some Service every Sunday ó so making public acknowledgment of Faith in Him to Whom we owe all we have and all we are. Should a Great Creatorís creatures ever have it in their hearts to do less? And then we began to miss him. And that point, so often, coincided with an easy descent to where only dead men lie. Oh! the tragedies and wrecks we all know about, if we donít speak about, whose end has sometimes been six feet of earthís merciful oblivion.

III. Here is another sanctity ó lore of country, Patriotism. That will never imply hatred of another country, and it will always be clean and also unselfish. Clean! for we can well guess what Dr. Johnson meant when he defined Patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel. Yes ó clean; may it never be used as a cloak to cover something less and something lower.

And unselfish. A sergeant in a Highland Regiment returned once to his battalion in the Line after having been twice wounded. He was certain that he was to be "for it" the third time. "But I donít mind," he said, "itís going to be a better world for the kiddies afterwards."

His sacrificial unselfishness had something of the Christ and Calvary spirit.

And didnít we see, once, raw recruits from the moors and glens, ó men who had never seen a cannon in their lives, ó didnít we see them facing mud and blood for King and Country and for little earthly reward ó doing something for which we havenít even a name in our language? The French call it esprit de corps. We, when we call it anything, say it is The Old Flag. Are we ever to let that spirit evaporate, far though we be from home?

IV. And here is yet one last Sanctity. It is the answer to the first question in a wonderful little book called the Shorter Catechism, "What is manís chief end?" ó "Manís chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever". What a splendid twin British Exhibition is possible for us at this time óspiritual as well as material; character as well as commerce.

How shall we sing the Lordís song in a strange land? The comprehensive answer is there: "Manís chief end is to glorify God".

The words may take you back to a motherís knee. Whether or no, they take you ultimately to a green hill far away and long ago where Somebody hung upon a Cross for love of the souls of men.

And they confront you with Him, Who, in His judgment of men, never makes mistakes, King of kings and Lord of lords, to reign for ever and ever.

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