'On Eagle's Wings': Joe Biden quotes Minnesota priest's hymn in victory speech

Father Michael Joncas, the composer of "On Eagle's Wings" was honored that Joe Biden quoted his hymn in his victory speech over the weekend.

President-elect Joe Biden ended his victory speech Saturday night by quoting the hymn “On Eagle’s Wings,” which was written by a Minnesota priest.

It’s a popular hymn at church services and was composed by a Minnesota priest who has found himself suddenly in the spotlight.

Father Michael Joncas has written more than 300 songs over the last 50 years, but the tune recited by the President-elect is now flying high above the rest.

“I am humbled and honored,” he said. “I actually am humbled and honored he would have quoted it.”

Joncas says he knew that Biden was a fan of his hymn, but he was as surprised as anyone the President-elect quoted the refrain in his victory speech Saturday night.

“I couldn’t really react to it because my phone started ringing,” he said of the night of many phone calls.

Joncas wrote the song back in 1976 for the funeral of a friend’s parent. Since then, it has become as staple at Catholic masses, Christian services and civic ceremonies around the world.

“I am so happy God would use that to give comfort and encouragement to people,” he said.

Joncas says at a time when the country is so divided, he hopes his most famous composition can help America heal.

“I just thought, no eagle can soar on only one wing. It takes both wings. We need to come together if our country is going to soar,” Joncas said of his hymn’s meaning in modern politics.

He is the artist in residence at Univeristy of St. Thomas and said his second most popular song is “Shelter Me,” a hymn he wrote to comfort everyone living through the pandemic back in March.

In the meantime, he plans on writing to President-elect Biden to thank him for quoting the hymn.