Poetry in the Preaching Service

Firmly believing in the value of reading a Christian poem to enforce the Y thought in a sermon, I have for some years asked the co-operation of Mrs. L. D. Avery-Stuttle in supplying poems on certain topics that I planned to use in sermons.

By H. Camden Lacey

Firmly believing in the value of reading a Christian poem to enforce the Y thought in a sermon, I have for some years asked the co-operation of Mrs. L. D. Avery-Stuttle in supplying poems on certain topics that I planned to use in sermons. Mrs. Stuttle has kindly co-operated with me in working out this plan, and personally I have found it often very appealing. Other sources of Christian poems are also drawn upon. Recently I read one from Horatius Bonar at our quarterly meeting service, entitled, "The Marriage Feast," and felt that it took hold of the hearts of many of the hearers. Would it not be well for our ministers to adopt this practice? Much of the Old Testament is poetry in the original Hebrew, and it occurs here and there in the Greek New Testament. Practically all the prophetic writings (except Daniel, Ezekiel, and parts of Jeremiah) are prophetic poems.


Four of Mrs. Stuttle's poems, written on suggested themes, follow:


Thou art so pure, Almighty One,

How dare I lift mine eyes to Thee?

My heart is sinful and undone,

And restless as the troubled sea.

Before Thy throne archangels bow,— 

These are not pure in Thy sight,—

The very heavens themselves, I trow,

Cannot contain Thy glory bright.


Then how shall I, a child of earth,

Whose every thought is tinged with sin,

Impure and evil e'en from birth,

And full of selfishness within,—

How shall I stand before Thy face?

How can I stem the guilty flood?

What ! wilt Thou fill me with Thy grace,

And cleanse me with Thy priceless blood?


Aye; then shall I be pure indeed,

Whiter than wool my scarlet sin; 

For Thou dost see my soul's deep need,

And measurest the guilt within.

O search and cleanse me day by day,

And fit me for Thy dwelling place,

For well I know that Thou dost say,

The pure in heart shall see My face."


A Prayer for Perfection

So far from Thee, O Christ, Thou perfect One!

O draw me closer till the work is done,

Ere in the west shall sink the setting sun,

Life's journey o'er ;

Ah, let my blinded eyes be opened wide,

And fix my gaze on Him, the Crucified,

Till I shall bid adieu to self and pride



O let me place my foolish, wandering feet In the straight path, and count its suffering sweet,

And walk the thorny path in joy complete, That Jesus trod!

I shall not shrink to run the toilsome race If but so be I vision Thy dear face.

Thus shall I reach perfection by Thy grace, My Lord and God.

Thy perfect Pattern may I keep in view, My only Pattern, beautiful and true,

And prayerfully mark my path each day anew,

Till by and by Thy Face shall be enshrined in my poor heart,

A certain refuge from the tempter's dart,

That with Thy children I may have a part Beyond the sky.


The Ark of the Covenant

O sacred ark, Jehovah's resting place,

What memories thou wakest in my breast!

I think of Moses with his shining face,

And cloud-girt Sinai with flaming crest;

I think of Aaron with his budding rod,

And Taraers.pat of manna-thou didst keep,

And perfect law writ by the hand of God,

'Mid holy solitudes and silence deep.

When Israel crossed the Jordan, deep and wide,

The glorious ark prepared the way before,

And God held back the swelling, rushing tide,

Till all His people reached the farther side,

And hailed at last fair Canaan's verdant shore.

When ancient Jericho, with towering wall,

Rose like a threatening barrier in their way,

God's ark was there, He heard His people call,

And quick He bade those mighty towers fall,

And Satan's minions hasted to obey.

O wondrous ark ! O wondrous mercy seat!

O wondrous guardian of God's perfect law!

Ah, thus do justice and sweet mercy meet,

For God's great law rests 'neath His mercy seat,—

That law in which is neither fault nor

Help us, O God, to keep that law so just,

Nor trail Thy glorihus banner in the dust.


Three crosses stood on the bleak hillside,

Three terrible crosses high and wide,

That bore the forms of the crucified

In that awful hour of woe;

When sudden, shrill on the quivering air,

Was borne the voice of a dying prayer,

The voice of a robber hanging there,

In that day so long ago.

The rock-ribbed earth, like a leaflet sere,

Trembled and shook with a nameless fear,

But the prayer of the suppliant sounded clear

On the quivering, ambient air;

His days were spent, he had run his race,

But his eyes were bent, in that fearsome place—

His anguished eyes—on the Master's face,

As he offered his earnest prayer.

And the echoing rocks took np the cry

Of the penitent robber hanging high,

The penitent thief who was doomed to die,

And echoed the wondrous word:

"Forget me not, but remember me

When Thou shalt reign as a King," said he,

"And give me a home, O Lord, with Thee!"

And the pitying Master heard,

And His eyes turned full on the dying thief.

His smile was kind, and His words were brief,

But they gave the penitent sweet relief

In that hour of fearsome woe.

Ah, the pardon of Christ is a blessed thing In the heart of a slave or the heart of a king,

For the barbs of sin have a deadly sting, The sting of a cruel foe.

Ah, what so sweet as a pardon free From the lips of the Christ of Calvary!

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By H. Camden Lacey

July 1932

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