A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

The Stranger and His Friend

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.

 

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 drained my cup,

Dipped 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 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.

 

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.

 

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!”

 

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.”

 

– James Montgomery

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