One day toward the end of my stay in the LDS Mission Training Center in preparation to serve as one of their missionaries for a year and a half our group was waiting in our classroom for our instructor to show up. While waiting we decided to sing. We chose to sing 'A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief' written by James Montgomery. We sang all seven verses of that wonderful hymn. This was a favorite hymn of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He asked John Taylor to sing that hymn as they sat in a jail in Carthage, Illinois moments before he was murdered by a mob of his enemies.
Our group in the MTC sang this song with no accompaniment and as we sang the final two verses the room felt to us as if it were floating and not a dry eye could be found among us. At the end of the song...no one spoke.
"...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.'"
Here are the words to that song in their entirety.
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 a-gain. 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."
Labels: Faith, Lifestops Music