All Are Welcome

Ok, I’m partly posting this to save me search time in the future and partly because it’s interesting (strangely, the full text of Haugen’s hymn doesn’t seem to be online)  Anyways, just yesterday, the Columbia Seminary community sang “All Are Welcome” at a service celebrating National Coming Out day. It’s a hymn of welcome with a fun (or too fun) text, sing-songy tune, and quite solid refrain.

I’m posting the entire text to help folks critique or research or worship plan, but not so they can steal. Clearly, use it legally which means if your congregation doesn’t have the rights or OneLicense then buy it before you use it.

I’ve read that “All Are Welcome” is a popular hymn in American Roman Catholic churches, but also that there’s some push back. First the text, then some comments.

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where prophets speak, and words are strong and true,
where all God’s children dare to seek to dream God’s reign anew.
Here the cross shall stand as witness and as symbol of God’s grace;
here as one we claim the faith of Jesus:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where love is found in water, wine, and wheat:
a banquet hall on holy ground where peace and justice meet.
Here the love of God, through Jesus, is revealed in time and space;
as we share in Christ the feast that free us:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where hands will reach beyond the wood and stone
to heal and strengthen, serve and teach, and live the Word they’ve known.
Here the outcast and the stranger bear the image of God’s face;
let us bring an end to fear and danger:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard
and loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace,
let this house proclaim from floor to rafter:
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

A few issues that come up. First, the refrain really sticks with you. It’s a simple but strong text matched to a really spiffy tune. Second, I’m not sure about the repeating phrase, “let us build a house.” Sure, it’s biblical but I’m not convinced the house metaphor is the best for us these days, but even if it’s good, every verse gets a bit repetitive (wonder if it was written for a building dedication?). Third, I’ve heard the line, “built of hopes and dreams and visions” critiqued for being too folksy and imprecise, but I like the line for the biblical ideas of hope, dreams, and visions that it brings to my mind. Finally, I the theological claims of the last verse really appeal to me, that our story is “claimed as words within the Word.” I think that names our connection to Christ well, and reminds us to fully value human experience.

I’ll be back to better blogging next week. I blame my professors for my slow output recently. But I can make quite an ethical argument regarding euthanasia and slippery slope logic.

Thanks to Matthias for playing and posting the tune on YouTube.  Can you believe it’s received almost 11,000 hits!  Crazy world we live in.


  1. David E. says

    This hymn is used quite frequently at Central Presbyterian in Louisville, a More Light congregation. As you look around at the diverse assembly gathered there, I find the text being lived out, for it does feel like “all are welcome.” It seems to be a sort of Mission Statement for that congregation.

  2. Robert says

    We have used this hymn during our Capital Campaign. Our campaign was to “Extend this house of welcoming”. Essentially we are adding to the physical plant of the church some things that will make the church more welcome to visitors; a new central driveway, a new narthex, a new youth lounge. This song has been sung many times and we even have the recording of it that we have played as background music during some of our “town hall” meetings about the campaign and the construction projects. It seems very appropriate for this type of use.

  3. says

    Thanks, both of you, for those interesting uses. Seems like the hymn can speak powerfully in different types of contexts. I’ve always wanted to be able to put a tracking device, or something like it, on a hymn to see how, where, and when it’s used after being written. It’d be fascinating, and surely would bring plenty of surprises.

  4. Faith says

    We sing this at my church, St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic church in Antioch, IL. I believe for us it has a literal meaning, because we are currently in a rented “church in a barn” while we build (actually re-build) a church, St. John of God, which is being moved piece by piece from its former place in the city of Chicago up to a rural area just south of the border of Wisconsin.

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