♫ Hymn of the Month: “Can Steel and Stone and Swirling Spire”

Monday, April 15

5-15By Danny Belrose of Independence, Missouri, USA

The Temple is an instrument of ongoing revelation…Let the Temple continue to come to life…the Temple calls the entire church to become a sanctuary of Christ’s peace, where people from all nations, ethnicities, and life circumstances can be gathered into a spiritual home without dividing walls, as a fulfillment of the vision for which Jesus Christ sacrificed his life.

—Doctrine and Covenants163:8a–c

I composed “Can Steel and Stone and Swirling Spire” in response to two phrases found in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 163, 8a and b: “The Temple is an instrument of ongoing revelation” and “Let the Temple continue to come to life.”

Winston Churchill said that we shape our buildings and ever after they shape us. In other words, the test for every church sanctuary, every sacred space, every worship and educational activity is praxis! (Praxis is a recurring process of transformative action and reflection.)

The Temple is more than an architectural marvel of swirling stone, steel, and glass; its ministries flow outward, extending far beyond its fixed physical footprint. The Temple serves to bless not simply those who gather within its walls but also (and, perhaps primarily) those who may never enter its doors. The hymn text reminds us the Temple “comes alive in us” whenever the dining room table, the office desk, and the workbench become extensions of the Communion table.

Can steel and stone and swirling spirit
Though planted in some distant place
Become God’s blessing to all nations—
The lost, the labeled, and displaced?

Can they who never see its form
Find solace in such sacred space?
Can ministries of living water
Flow far beyond its resting place?

God’s temple comes alive in us—
In every nation, tribe, and home
It lives and breathes in every soul
That seeks the peace of God’s shalom.

Prayer for Peace
Outreaching God, may we carry the ministries of the Temple far and wide. May our journey outward come from a place of inner strength. May we share the peace of Jesus Christ in our homes, our congregations, our communities, and the Temple—out to the world.

Spiritual Practice
Contemplate this hymn as a poem (or sing with the St. Clement tune).

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