Chapter 20 » 20.03

The source of our strength

The poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892), a Massachusetts journalist and anti-slavery campaigner, continues to find a place in modern hymn-books, far beyond the boundaries of the Religious Society of Friends. In The brewing of soma, of which the following are the final stanzas, the Quaker poet asks forgiveness for the Christian tendency to fall back on artificial stimulants to spiritual experience, which he likens to the drug-induced ecstasies of primitive religion in ‘the childhood of the world’ and contrasts with the true inspiration which we may experience in silent waiting upon God.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind

Forgive our foolish ways!

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

In purer lives thy service find,

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.


O Sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

Where Jesus knelt to share with thee

The silence of eternity

Interpreted by love!


With that deep hush subduing all

Our words and works that drown

The tender whisper of thy call,

As noiseless let thy blessing fall

As fell thy manna down.


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.


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!


← 20.02 20.04 →