A POOR WAYFARING MAN OF GRIEF
Suggested topics: love, parables, service
Suggested occasion: Pioneer Day
1. A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow'r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.
2. 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.
3. 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 drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o'er;
I drank and never thirsted more.
4. '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 and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed
In Eden's garden while I dreamed.
5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment--he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.
6. 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 my free spirit cried, "I will!"
7. 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 ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me."
31 ¶ When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellowbeings ye are only in the service of your God.
George Coles was converted [to Methodism] at age 13, Coles began preaching at 22, and emigrated to America in 1818. He served as editor of the Christian Advocate and Journal for 12 years, and the Sunday School Advocate for several years. He was a musician of some ability, and a good singer. His works include:
The Antidote, a Treatise Against Infidelity
Lectures to Children
A Concordance of the Holy Scriptures
My Youthful Days
My First Years in America
Heroines of Methodism
Zion’s Herald said of him:
"His fondness for the society of children, and his faculty of interesting and instructing them was extraordinary. Wherever he went, after a short acquaintance, they clustered about him as a father, and, not by anecdote, of which he had no great fund, but by original conceptions and by questions and by quaint remarks fitted to their capacity, he always succeeded in controlling their attention.
--from cyberhymnal.org/bio/, quoted on hymnary.org
Hymn number: 29
Music: George Coles, 1792-1858
Text: James Montgomery, 1771-1854
Meter: LMD (long meter doubled)
Tune : Duane Street
James Montgomery was born at Irvine, Ayrshire, Nov. 4th. 1771. In 1776 he removed with his parents to the Moravian settlement at Gracehill, near Ballymena, County Antrim. Two years later he was sent to the Fulbeck Seminary, Yorkshire. He left Fulbeck in 1787, and entered a retail shop at Mirfield, near Wakefield. Soon tiring of that, he entered upon a similar situation at Wath near Rotherham, only to find it quite as unsuitable to his taste as the former. A journey to London, with a hope of finding a publisher for his youthful poems, ended in failure; and in 1792, he was glad to leave Wath for Sheffield to join Mr. Gales, an auctioneer, bookseller and printer of the Sheffield Register newspaper, as his assistant. In 1794, Mr. Gales left England to avoid a political prosecution. Montgomery took the Sheffield Register in hand, changed its name to the Sheffield Iris, and continued to edit it for 31 years. During the next two years he was imprisoned twice; first for reprinting therein a song in commemoration of the Fall of the Bastille, and secondly for giving an account of a riot in Sheffield. The editing of his paper, the composition and publication of his poems and hymns, the delivery of lectures on poetry in Sheffield and at the Royal Institute, London, and the earnest advocacy of Foreign Missions and the Bible Society in many parts of the country, gave great variety, but very little of stirring incident in his life. In 1833 he received a royal pension of £200 a year. He died in his sleep at the Mount, Sheffield, on April 30th. 1854, and was honoured with a public funeral.
--from Dr. Julian's Hymnology, quoted on STEMpulishing.com
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus spoke these words after teaching his great lesson on charity. His message to his followers was that any act of generous compassion toward a person in need is counted as an act performed for the sake of the Savior himself. “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” is a narrative hymn that answers the question posed in Matthew 25:37–39: “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? “Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” The poem, originally titled “The Stranger,” first appeared in an anthology of verse in 1834. This hymn is especially loved among Latter- day Saints because of the role it played in the last hours before the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. On June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith was in jail in Carthage, Illinois, with his brother Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards. Hostility was growing, mobs threatened violence, and the prisoners knew their lives were in danger. Yet the Prophet was calm. Early on the morning of his martyrdom, Joseph wrote to his wife Emma: “Dear Emma, I am very much resigned to my lot, knowing I am justified, and have done the best that could be done. Give my love to the children and all my friends. . . . May God bless you all” (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, ed. Dean C. Jessee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2002], 630). John Taylor told of the scene in the jail cell: “All of us felt unusually . . . languid, with a remarkable depression of spirits. In consonance with those feelings I sang a song, that had lately been introduced into Nauvoo, entitled, ‘A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.’ . . . After a lapse of some time, Brother Hyrum requested me again to sing that song. I replied, ‘Brother Hyrum, I do not feel like singing’; when he remarked, ‘Oh, never mind; commence singing, and you will get the spirit of it.’ At his request I did so” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, 1932], 7:101–2). Not long after Elder Taylor sang the song the second time, the mob attacked the jail, murdering the Prophet and his brother. The text has been part of Latter-day Saint hymnody since it was included in the Manchester hymnal in 1840. The tune name DUANE STREET is taken from the Duane Street Church in New York City where, in 1839, the composer, the Reverend George Coles, preached a famous sermon in honor of the centennial of the Methodist Church. Our present tune is actually a rather elaborate variation of DUANE STREET.
--from Karen Lynn Davidson's Our Latter-Day Hymns