In Isolation: April 29, “Deep in Our Hearts”

An introduction to this “In Isolation” blog series appears at the top of the March 22 post.


“Deep in Our Hearts” is a widely used song with lyrics by John Oldham. Immediately accessible for congregations and choirs alike, the non-denominational, interfaith text offers a theme of unity and commonality. I asked John to write about the origins of the words and he has supplied us with the following background.

In the 1990’s, while serving as minister with a suburban congregation in south Winnipeg, Manitoba, I became involved in Native Spirituality Circles, sweat-lodge ceremonies, fasts and vision quests. It was my custom to go for long walks in nature, primarily in La Barriere Park south of our home. I would take my walking stick and other symbols important to me to a location along the La Salle river where there was a beaver dam. Walking in silence, listening to Nature’s music and the Voice of Spirit was like a meditation.

In August 1994, while walking along the river, I received the first two verses. I sat at the waterfalls at the beaver dam and offered prayers. I began drumming and singing those first two verses and verse three came mere moments later. It only took about four minutes to receive the words – that is, four minutes plus 49 years!

I sent the words to Ron. Nearly two years later, in Cambridge, Ontario, he set them to music. That very evening his church choir was presenting a concert along with guest Bruce Harding. Ron made copies of the new music and passed them out to the choir as they gathered for a last-minute rehearsal and warmup, announcing that they were singing it in an hour or so! Marlene and I were present to hear it sung for the first time. Little did we know then what Ron and Spirit had started!

Shortly thereafter, Ron moved to Vancouver Island, BC. In May of 1998, in a series of concerts in Vancouver and Parksville and at the Naramata Centre, we shared “Deep” and about 10 of our other collaborations. It was featured again in Ron’s 2001 “Wind of Change” Cross-Canada Tour with Fred Kaan.

In 2005 “Deep” was part of Ron’s Anthology concerts in Nanaimo and Victoria, BC and Halifax, Nova Scotia. During the Victoria concert, while “Deep” was being sung, Fred Kaan, who was sitting beside me, placed his hand on my head as it was sung. It felt like a re-ordination!

Over the years we have received many messages of appreciation for the song. The title is on a gravestone. The song has been sung at many interfaith gatherings. It has been shared at international Hymn Society events as well as worship workshops across Canada and the U.S. It has touched the hearts and spirituality of many kindred spirits and for this I feel grateful and profoundly blessed.

Jim and Jean Strathdee, musical mentors for decades, first heard “Deep in Our Hearts” at the Naramata Centre in 1998 and included it (with flute and drum) on their 2016 “Miracle of Dawn” CD and songbook.


DEEP IN OUR HEARTS

Deep in our hearts there is a common vision;
Deep in our hearts there is a common song;
Deep in our hearts there is a common story,
telling Creation that we are one.

Deep in our hearts there is a common purpose;
Deep in our hearts there is a common goal;
Deep in our hearts there is a sacred message,
justice and peace in harmony.

Deep in our hearts there is a common longing;
Deep in our hearts there is a common theme;
Deep in our hearts there is a common current,
flowing to freedom like a stream.

Deep in our hearts there is a common vision;
Deep in our hearts there is a common song;
Deep in our hearts there is a common story,
telling Creation that we are one.

Words by John Oldham