During the wedding in Act II of Our Town by Thornton Wilder, the choir sings “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds.” Discuss the impact of the song on the play.
Blessed be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.
We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
The beautiful hymn “Bless Be the Tithe That Binds” purveys Thornton Wilder’s theme iOur Town. Men are gregarious and require human relationships to flourish. The song permeates the play during important aspects of human connections.
The three verses of the song juxtapose the phases of a man and woman relationship and the acts in the play.
- Act I=Daily life
- Act II=Love and Marrriage
- Act III=Death
'The fellowship of kindred minds/ is like to that above.'
The audience is introduced to the characters in the play: the Webb family, the Gibbs, the Stage Manager, and other minor characters. The important word in the first verse of the song is kindred which means people who have a common belief.
The other important phrase is Christian love. That is the connection that Wilder asserts throughout the play. Although the song is a Christian hymn, Wilder does not stress the Christian aspect, but rather the significance of love between human beings.
The first act shows several kinds of relationships: parent-child; man-woman, husband-wife, neighbor-neighbor, doctor-patient and more. Without these interactions, life would not be as God planned it.
Man needs to connect in some way with other human beings. When George and Emily establish their first real association in their windows at night, the lesson within the song connects for the audience illustrates that these two young people are kindred spirits who hearts intensify through Christian love.
'…our fears, our hopes, our aims are one/ Ourcomforts and our cares.'
“Mrs. Gibbs tells her husband in the beginning of this act: “Yes,…people are meant to go through life two by two. Tain’t natural to be lonesome.” As the song tells the audience, there is a person for everyone who goals are the same as the other one. These partners will give and receive comfort and care. Wilder expected this relationship to last forever.
George tells Emily that he needs her. She asks him to love her forever. In the newness of the relationship with their overwhelming love, George and Emily mean exactly what they are saying. Mrs. Soames repeats over and again that is lovely wedding of two beautiful young people as the choir sings the line “We pour our ardent prayers…” during the wedding.
'And often for each other flows/The sympathizing tear'.
The play becomes melancholy. Man does not understand death and fears it. One of Wilder’s themes in the drama concerns how death impacts the lives of human beings.
Emily dies in childbirth. One of the most creative scenes in American theater portrays the funeral with the actual grave side rites in the background and the dead seated in chairs representing the graves. At the grave side service, the mourners sing “Bless Be the Tie.”
The audience learns that the newly dead person feels more alive than dead in the beginning when she comes to her grave: however, she eventually loses interest in the living.
The living who attend the funeral share George’s and her parents’ grief for losing someone so young. The tie that bindsbecomes the sharing of each others sorrows and happiness. Without that sympathetic ear, the misery that one feels when someone loses a person that he loves is compounded.
The final message for the audience stems from Emily’s trip back to real life. It is so elemental but so often forgotten. Enjoy life while a person has it and appreciate the people that you love now.