Happy Canada Day, fellow Canadians!
“Canada’s official motto, carried on its coat of arms, is A Mari usque ad Mare, which translates as “From Sea to Sea.” The phrase began during Confederation as an aspirational statement, before Canada encompassed enough territory to make it a reality.
A Mari usque ad Mare comes from the Bible’s Psalm 72:8, which reads in Latin: Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae. The King James version puts it into English: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”
The verse was first applied to Canada when, apparently at the suggestion of New Brunswick’s Samuel Leonard Tilley, the term dominion was chosen to represent Canada as a whole when the British North America Act was drafted in 1867.
At that time, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were the founding provinces of the Dominion of Canada. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia gave the new country a border on the Atlantic Ocean. However, “From Sea to Sea” did not geographically apply to Canada until 1871, when British Columbia joined Confederation and the Dominion extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
In 1872 Reverend George Monro Grant crossed the country as secretary to Sandford Flemming, who was then in charge of the Pacific railway surveys. The next year Grant published Ocean to Ocean, his journal describing the journey. The title is akin to “From Sea to Sea.” Tradition tells that from this point on, Grant preached in many places, using Psalm 72:8 as his text and advocating the adoption of “From Sea to Sea” as Canada’s motto.
That was then….this is now (2017) Psalm 72:8 is a text worth preaching – regardless of the translation you prefer!
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. (KJV)
May he also rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (NASB)
May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth! (ESV)
May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (NIV)
On this Canada’s 150th birthday, I feel like singing. Not only our National Anthem but Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun.
Here’s Isaac Watts’ long version.
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
Behold the islands with their kings,
And Europe her best tribute brings;
From north to south the princes meet,
To pay their homage at His feet.
There Persia, glorious to behold,
There India shines in eastern gold;
And barb’rous nations at His word
Submit, and bow, and own their Lord.
To Him shall endless prayer be made,
And praises throng to crown His head;
His Name like sweet perfume shall rise
With every morning sacrifice.
People and realms of every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.
Blessings abound wherever He reigns;
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains;
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.
Where He displays His healing power,
Death and the curse are known no more:
In Him the tribes of Adam boast
More blessings than their father lost.
Let every creature rise and bring
Peculiar honours to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud amen!
Great God, whose universal sway
The known and unknown worlds obey,
Now give the kingdom to Thy Son,
Extend His power, exalt His throne.
The scepter well becomes His hands;
All Heav’n submits to His commands;
His justice shall avenge the poor,
And pride and rage prevail no more.
With power, He vindicates the just,
And treads th’oppressor in the dust:
His worship and His fear shall last
Till hours, and years, and time be past.
As rain on meadows newly mown,
So shall He send his influence down:
His grace on fainting souls distills,
Like heav’nly dew on thirsty hills.
The heathen lands, that lie beneath
The shades of overspreading death,
Revive at His first dawning light;
And deserts blossom at the sight.
The saints shall flourish in His days,
Dressed in the robes of joy and praise;
Peace, like a river, from His throne
Shall flow to nations yet unknown.