My Psalm

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) is well-known as one of the Fireside Poets. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that Whittier’s poems have “the morning air of a soul that breathes freely, and always the fragrance of a loving spirit.”

His best known hymn is Dear Lord and Father of mankind, but one of my favorite poems of his is My Psalm and I’ve shared it below. It’s based on his journey through life interwoven with themes of nature and God’s providence.

My two favorite verses are:

All as God wills, who wisely heeds
To give or to withhold,
And knoweth more of all my needs
Than all my prayers have told.

And

Enough that blessings undeserved
Have marked my erring track;
That wheresoe’er my feet have swerved,
His chastening turned me back;

I’m thankful for the Lord’s guiding hand and discipline, and how He intercedes knowing my needs more than I have ever confessed in prayer.

My Psalm

I mourn no more my vanished years
Beneath a tender rain,
An April rain of smiles and tears,
My heart is young again.

The west-winds blow, and, singing low,
I hear the glad streams run;
The windows of my soul I throw
Wide open to the sun.

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here.

I plough no more a desert land,
To harvest weed and tare;
The manna dropping from God’s hand
Rebukes my painful care.

I break my pilgrim staff, I lay
Aside the toiling oar;
The angel sought so far away
I welcome at my door.

The airs of spring may never play
Among the ripening corn,
Nor freshness of the flowers of May
Blow through the autumn morn.

Yet shall the blue-eyed gentian look
Through fringed lids to heaven,
And the pale aster in the brook
Shall see its image given;–

The woods shall wear their robes of praise,
The south-wind softly sigh,
And sweet, calm days in golden haze
Melt down the amber sky.

Not less shall manly deed and word
Rebuke an age of wrong;
The graven flowers that wreathe the sword
Make not the blade less strong.

But smiting hands shall learn to heal,–
To build as to destroy;
Nor less my heart for others feel
That I the more enjoy.

All as God wills, who wisely heeds
To give or to withhold,
And knoweth more of all my needs
Than all my prayers have told.

Enough that blessings undeserved
Have marked my erring track;
That wheresoe’er my feet have swerved,
His chastening turned me back;

That more and more a Providence
Of love is understood,
Making the springs of time and sense
Sweet with eternal good;–

That death seems but a covered way
Which opens into light,
Wherein no blinded child can stray
Beyond the Father’s sight;

That care and trial seem at last,
Through Memory’s sunset air,
Like mountain-ranges overpast,
In purple distance fair;

That all the jarring notes of life
Seem blending in a psalm,
And all the angles of its strife
Slow rounding into calm.

And so the shadows fall apart,
And so the west-winds play;
And all the windows of my heart
I open to the day.

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