Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Mari usque ad Mare

A Mari usque ad Mare ("From Sea to Sea") is Canada's motto. It was derived from Psalm 72:8, which reads in Latin "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae," and in the King James version, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."

We took the standard half hour tour of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa on a busy Saturday morning last weekend. Tourists who visit from Monday to Friday are not permitted to take photographs in the building but this rule is not enforced after business hours. The building is a magnificent example of Gothic Revival architecture and is full of elements of national symbolic importance. I would love to spend half a day examining the sculptures, inscriptions and art work in the Peace Tower, parliamentary halls and rooms, and the public grounds around the hill.

I will not review the history of Parliament Hill as this link to Wikipedia does it well. I took special notice of the biblical symbolism and use of scripture, particularly in the Peace Tower. We went to the top of the tower and enjoyed the view of the city in all four directions and then walked around the Memorial Chamber which commemorates Canada's war record.

The exterior windows of the Peace Tower are inscribed as follows:

East window- He shall have dominion also from sea to sea. (Psalm 72:8)

South window- Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. (Psalm 72:1)

West window- Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

The largest bell in the Peace Tower belfry says, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men. (Luke 2:14)

The Peace Tower Memorial Chamber has several poems and scripture selections on the walls and altar. The marble panel on the south wall is inscribed with the words of Psalm 139:8-10

Elsewhere in the building, the Cabinet Room is inscribed with, "Love justice, you that are the rulers of the earth. Aimez la justice, vous qui jugez la terre." (Song of Solomon 1:1) and the Opposition Board Room says "Fear God, Honour the king." (1 Peter 2:17)

I feel it is important to acknowledge God in matters of government. But the mixture of politics and religion promoted from some pulpits is another concern. For instance, I have seen some ugly comments in Facebook groups and on blogs from "christians" who feel strongly that Barak Obama's presidency is a big mistake. Angry criticism, disrespect and arrogant opinions in the name of God are too commonly encountered. These scripture passages encourage a different attitude toward our leaders.

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:2

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God... Romans 13:1-6

As a Christian it is my duty to pray for our government and for each leader who represents our people. I will exercise my right to vote and should participate peaceably in the democratic process we are fortunate to have in place in Canada.

I enjoy reading the prayers in the Anglican Church's Canadian Book of Common Prayer. This prayer for peace in the world reflects the perspective Christians should demonstrate toward those who have the responsibilty of governing nations.

from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed:
Kindle, we pray thee, in the hearts of all men
the true love of peace,
and guide with thy pure and peaceable wisdom those who take
counsel for the nations of the earth;
that in tranquility thy kingdom may go forward,
till the earth is filled with the knowledge of thy love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


  1. I would love to visit a place like that. Such beautiful history that glorifies God! Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Wow!I as a Canadian had no idea that Parliment Hill had all those Bible verses inscibed on it.I agree we need to spend more time praying for our leaders and less time critizing them.Thanks ever so much for this post.Wishing you God's Blessings,Ruth

  3. It's wonderful. Thanks for sharing, Ruth.

  4. Thanks for your comments. I fear we are so concerned about offending those who are of other faiths that we do not celebrate our Christian heritage.


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