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