The Story of the Seer of Patmos
John the Beloved
I’m growing very old. This weary head
That hath so often leaned on Jesus’ breast
In days long past that seem almost a dream,
Is bent and hoary with its weight of years.
These limbs that followed Him-my Master-oft
From Galilee to Judah, yea, that stood
Beneath the cross, and trembled with His groans,
Refuse to bear me even through the streets
To preach unto my children. E’en my lips
Refuse to form the words my heart sends forth.
My ears are dull, they scarcely hear the sobs
Of my dear children gathered round my couch;
God lays His hand upon me,-yea, His hand
And not His rod,-the gentle hand that I
Felt, those three years, so often pressed in mine
In friendship such as passeth woman’s love. SSP 25.1
I’m old,-so old I can not recollect
The faces of my friends, and I forget
The words and deeds that make my daily life;
But that dear face and every word He spoke
Grow more distinct as others fade away,
So that I live with Him and holy dead
More than with the living. SSP 25.2
Some seventy years ago
I was a fisher by the sacred sea.
It was at sunset. How the tranquil tide
Bathed dreamily the pebbles! How the light
Crept up the distant hills, and in its wake
Soft, purple shadows wrapped the dewy fields!
And then He came and called me. Then I gazed,
For the first time, on that sweet face. Those eyes,
From out of which, as from a window, shone
Divinity, looked on my inmost soul
And lighted it forever. Then His words
Broke on the silence of my heart, and made
The whole world musical. Incarnate Love
Took hold of me, and claimed me for its own.
I followed in the twilight, holding fast
His mantle. SSP 26.1
O, what holy walks we had,
Through harvest fields and desolate, dreary wastes!
And oftentimes He leaned upon my arm,
Wearied and wayworn. I was young and strong,
And so upbore Him. Lord, now I am weak,
And old, and feeble! Let me rest on Thee!
So, put Thine arm around me. Closer still!
How strong Thou art! The twilight grows apace.
Come, let us leave these noisy streets, and take
The path to Bethany, for Mary’s smile
Awaits us at the gate, and Martha’s hands
Have long prepared the cheerful evening meal.
Come, James, the Master waits; and Peter, see,
Has gone some steps before. SSP 26.2
What say you, friends?
That this is Ephesus, and Christ has gone
Back to His kingdom? Ay,’tis so,’tis so.
I know it all; and yet, just now I seemed
To stand once more upon my native bills,
And touch my Master. O, how oft I’ve seen
The touching of His garment bring back strength
To palsied limbs! I feel it has to mine. SSP 26.3
UP! bear me once more to my church! Once more
There let me tell them of a Saviour’s love;
For, by the sweetness of my Master’s voice
Just now, I think He must be very near,-
Coming, I trust, to break the veil, which time
Has worn so thin that I can see beyond,
And watch His footsteps. SSP 27.1
So, raise my head.
How dark it is! I can not seem to see
The faces of my flock. Is that the sea
That murmurs so, or is it weeping? Hush,
My little children! God so loved the world
He gave His Son. So love ye one another.
Love God and man. Amen. Now bear me back.
My legacy unto an angry world is this.
I feel my work is finished. Are the streets so full?
What call the folk my name,-the Holy John?
Nay, write me rather, Jesus Christ’s beloved,
And lover of my children. SSP 27.2
Lay me down
Once more upon my couch, and open wide
The eastern window. See, there comes a light
Like that which broke upon my soul at eve,
When, in the dreary Isle of Patmos, Gabriel came
And touched me on the shoulder. See, it grows
As when we mounted toward the pearly gates.
I know the way! I trod it once before.
And hark! It is the song the ransomed sang
Of glory to the Lamb! How loud it sounds!
And that unwritten one! Methinks my soul
Can join it now.......
.... O my Lord, my Lord!
How bright Thou art! and yet the very same
I loved in Galilee.’Tis worthy the hundred years
To feel this bliss! So lift me up, dear Lord,
Unto Thy bosom. There shall I abide. SSP 27.3
-Selected. SSP 27.4