Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DEACON'S PRAYER, by SAMUEL VALENTINE COLE



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THE DEACON'S PRAYER, by            
First Line: The hymn had slowly died away
Last Line: "as by one impulse, cried, ""amen!"
Subject(s): God; Prayer; Religion; Theology


THE hymn had slowly died away;
Then came the pause, and, while delayed
The brethren to exhort or pray,
The oldest deacon rose and prayed:
"O Lord, thine erring ones we are;
Perhaps we do not understand;
And yet we feel that, near and far,
There's need of danger in the land.

"Some things are safe that should not be;
Mob-murder, bribery, the desire
Of them, O Lord, who fear not Thee,
To take away our food and fire.
Because of safety overmuch,
The wolves of commerce prowl and seize;
Thy truth is dangerous unto such;
Thy right, thy justice, send us these.

"And, Lord—we hesitate in this,
So oft we err in speech and plan—
We ask—forgive us if amiss—
We ask Thee for some dangerous man.
Was not thy servant, Lincoln, one—
Him whom they hated so and slew?
Recall thy servant, Washington;
Thine enemies found him dangerous, too.

"And we remember One, dear Lord,
Who walked the ways of Galilee;
He brought and left on earth a sword—
None lives so dangerous as he!
And, oh, we dare not pray this night
For peace with sin, lest everywhere
That sword of justice, truth, and right
Lay on our path its awful glare!

"Beat back the hosts of lawless might;
Quench this accursed thirst for gold;
And with the love of heaven smite
The hearts that now seem hard and cold.
Vouchsafe to us the power again
To turn 'I ought' into 'I can,'
'I can' into 'I will,' and then
Grant us, O Lord, some dangerous man.

"Not one who merely sits and thinks,
Looks Buddha-wise, with folded hands;
Who balances, and blinks, and shrinks,
And questions—while we wait commands!
Who dreams, perchance, that right and wrong
Will make their quarrel up some day,
And discord be the same as song—
Lord, not so safe a one, we pray!

"Nor one who never makes mistakes
Because he makes not anything;
But one who fares ahead and breaks
The path for truth's great following;
Who takes the way that brave men go—
Forever up stern duty's hill;
Who answers 'Yes,' or thunders 'No,'
According to thy holy will.

"We want a man whom we can trust
To lead us where thy purpose leads;
Who dares not lie, but dares be just—
Give us the dangerous man of deeds!"
So prayed the deacon, letting fall
Each sentence from his heart; and when
He took his seat the brethren all,
As by one impulse, cried, "Amen!"





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