John Greenleaf Whittier Meditation. John Greenleaf Whittier has been described as the most American of all our American poets. His verse has been noted as profoundly and pervasively religious.
Accordingly, let’s be inspired as we allow John Greenleaf Whittier to lead our meditation in his own poetic verse. We will consider two of his hymns, both published in 1856.
Immortal Love, Forever Full
Immortal love, forever full,
Forever flowing free,
Forever shared, forever whole,
A never ebbing sea!
Our outward lips confess the name
All other names above;
Love only knoweth whence it came,
And comprehendeth love.
Blow, winds of God, awake and blow
The mists of earth away:
Shine out, O light divine, and show
How wide and far we stray.
We may not climb the heavenly steeps
To bring the Lord Christ down;
In vain we search the lowest deeps,
For Him no depths can drown.
But warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
A present help is He;
And faith still has its Olivet,
And love its Galilee.
The healing of His seamless dress
Is by our beds of pain;
We touch Him in life’s throng and press,
And we are whole again.
Through Him the first fond prayers are said
Our lips of childhood frame,
The last low whispers of our dead
Are burdened with His name.
The letter fails, the systems fall,
And every symbol wanes;
The Spirit over brooding all,
Eternal love remains.
O Lord and Master of us All
O Lord and Master of us all,
Whate’er our name or sign,
We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
We test our lives by Thine.
Thou judgest us; Thy purity
Doth all our lusts condemn;
The love that draws us nearer Thee
Is hot with wrath to them.
Our thoughts lie open to Thy sight
And naked to Thy glance
Our secret sins are in the light
Of Thy pure countenance.
Yet weak and blinded though we be,
Thou dost our service own;
We bring our varying gifts to Thee,
And Thou rejectest none.
To Thee our full humanity,
Its joys and pains belong;
The wrong of man to man on Thee
Inflicts a deeper wrong.
Who hates, hates Thee; who loves, becomes
Therein to Thee allied:
All sweet accords of hearts and homes
In Thee are multiplied.
Apart from Thee all gain is loss,
All labor vainly done;
The solemn shadow of the cross
Is better than the sun.
Our Friend, our Brother, and our Lord,
What may Thy service be?
Nor name, nor form, nor ritual word,
But simply following Thee.
We faintly hear, we dimly see,
In differing phrase we pray;
But dim or clear, we own in Thee
The Life, the Truth, the Way.