(4 November 1872 - 1934 / Scotia, Lake Erie, Ontario)

Soldiers All

They're praying for the soldier lads in grim old London town;
Last night I went, myself, and heard a bishop in his gown
Confiding to the Lord of Hosts his views of this affair.
'We do petition Thee,' he said, 'to have a watchful care
Of all the stalwart men and strong who at their country's call
Went sailing off to Africa to fight, perchance to fall!'
'Amen!' a thousand voices cried. I whispered low: 'Dear Lord,
A host is praying for the men, I want to say a word
For those who stay at home and wait-the mothers and the wives.
Keep close to them and help them bear their cheerless, empty lives!'

The Bishop prayed: 'Our cause is good, our quarrel right and just;
The God of battles is our God, and in His arm we trust.'
He never got that prayer of his in any printed book,
It came straight from the heart of him, his deep voice, how it shook!
And something glistened in his eye and down his flushed cheek ran.
I like a Bishop best of all when he is just a man.

'Amen!' they cried out louder still, but I bent low my head;
'Dear Christ, be kind to hearts that break for loved ones dying-dead;
Keep close to women folk who wait beset with anxious fears,
The wan-faced watchers whose dim eyes are filled with bitter tears!
I know, dear Christ, how hard it is,' I whispered as I kneeled,
'For long ago my bonnie boy fell on the battlefield.
Find comfort for the broken hearts of those weighed down to-day
With love and longing for the ones in danger far away.'

'They will not shrink,' the Bishop prayed, 'nor fear a soldier's grave;
Nay, each man will acquit himself like Briton true and brave.
God of battles, march with them, keep guard by day and night,
And arm them with a trust in Thee when they go up to fight!'

'Amen!' a sound of muffled sobs. The deep voice trembled some,
But I, with hot tears on my face, prayed hard for those at home:
'Keep watch and ward of all that wait in fever of unrest,
Who said good-bye and let them go, the ones they loved the best!
O comfort, Christ! Above the din of martial clamor, hark!
The saddest sound in all God's world-a crying in the dark.'

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