1844

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A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

 

A poor wayfaring man of grief

Had often crossed me on my way,

Who sued so humbly for relief

That I could never answer, Nay.

I had not power to ask his name;

Whither he went or whence he came;

Yet there was something in his eye

That won my love, I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread,

He entered—not a word he spake!

Just perishing for want of bread;

I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,

And ate, but gave me part again;

Mine was an angel's portion then,

For while I fed with eager haste,

The crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst,

Clear from the rock—his strength was gone,

The heedless water mocked his thirst,

He heard it, saw it hurrying on.

I ran and raised the suff'rer up;

Thrice from the stream he drain'd my cup,

Dipp'd, and returned it running o'er;

I drank and never thirsted more.

'Twas night, the floods were out, it blew

A winter hurricane aloof;

I heard his voice, abroad, and flew

To bid him welcome to my roof.

I warmed, I clothed, I cheered my guest,

I laid him on my couch to rest;

Then made the earth my bed, and seem'd

In Eden's garden while I dream'd.

Stripp'd, wounded, beaten nigh to death,

I found him by the highway side;

I rous'd his pulse, brought back his breath,

Revived his spirit, and supplied

Wine, oil, refreshment—he was heal'd;

I had myself a wound conceal'd;

But from that hour forgot the smart,

And peace bound up my broken heart,

In pris'n I saw him next—condemned

To meet a traitor's doom at morn;

The tide of lying tongues I stemmed.

And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.

My friendship's utmost zeal to try,

He asked, if I for him would die;

The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,

But the free spirit cried, "I will!"

Then in a moment to my view,

The stranger started from disguise:

The tokens in his hands I knew,

The savior stood before mine eyes.

He spake—and my poor name he named—

"Of me thou hast not been asham'd;

These deeds shall thy memorial be;

Fear not thou didst them unto me."

History of the Church Volume 6