Monday, June 04, 2012

Poetry break

Sometimes you hear what you need when you most need it. One of the hymns we sang yesterday was "Dear Lord and Father of mankind" by Whittier. (Thank goodness my particular congregation hasn't decided to use the "updated" hymnals....where all language has been made gender-neutral and "less warlike," some of the new wordings are really clunky and unpleasant to sing).

Whittier is a poet I don't know too much about. I know he was an abolitionist in New England and was generally considered to be a "good man." I also think some of the critics derided his verse as not sufficiently deep or simplistic. I don't know; in some ways I am a simple woman and I have to say I like this poem.

The hymn version of it (at least the version we sing) does not use all the stanzas in the poem, but here is the complete poem:

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways!
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise;
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word,
rise up and follow thee;
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity
interpreted by love!
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace;
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm;
O still, small voice of calm.

I particularly needed the "Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess, the beauty of thy peace" part of it, yesterday. 

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