“To a Waterfowl” (1818), by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)

“Pinkfeet, the Wild Geese of England” (1949) by Sir Peter Scott (1909-1989), Baron Fine Art Gallery.

William Cullen Bryant, ca. 1876

This poem is a favorite, and came to my mind after seeing that Psalm 91 is the appointed Psalm to be read this coming Sunday. I’ve included the text of Psalm 91 after Bryant’s poem – note the similarities and shared themes!

Bryant’s biography is an interesting one, as he is known as the poet who really brought American poetry to the world scene in the early 19th Century with his poem, “Thanatopsis.” You can read more about Bryant here.

Whither, ‘midst falling dew, 
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, 
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue 
Thy solitary way? 

Vainly the fowler’s eye 
Might mark thy distant flight, to do thee wrong, 
As, darkly seen against the crimson sky, 
Thy figure floats along. 

Seek’st thou the plashy brink 
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide, 
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink 
On the chaféd ocean side? 

There is a Power, whose care 
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,— 
The desert and illimitable air 
Lone wandering, but not lost. 

All day thy wings have fanned, 
At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere; 
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, 
Though the dark night is near. 

And soon that toil shall end, 
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest, 
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend, 
Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest. 

Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven 
Hath swallowed up thy form, yet, on my heart 
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, 
And shall not soon depart. 

He, who, from zone to zone, 
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, 
In the long way that I must trace alone, 
Will lead my steps aright. 

Psalm 91

    He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

    I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress:
My God; in him will I trust.

    Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
And from the noisome pestilence.

    He shall cover thee with his feathers,
And under his iwings shalt thou trust:
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
Nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

    Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

    A thousand shall fall at thy side,
And ten thousand at thy right hand;
But it shall not come nigh thee.

    Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold
And see the reward of the wicked.

    Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge,
Even the most High, thy habitation;

10    There shall no evil befall thee,
Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11    For he shall give his angels charge over thee,
To keep thee in all thy ways.

12    They shall bear thee up in their hands,
Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13    Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14    Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15    He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:
I will be with him in trouble;

I will deliver him, and ghonour him.
16    With long life will I satisfy him,
And shew him my salvation.[1]

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Ps 91.

Thursday Meditation: Psalm 145

“Aller Augen warten auf Dich” (1866) by Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803-1884), from “Eine Auslese aus den Werken des Meisters, Herausgegeben vom Leipziger Lehrer-Verein,” (Verlag von Alphons Dürr, Leipzig 1905).

I was out walking in our local park the other day and had taken along my pocket New Testament and Psalms to read if I found any idyllic spots along the trail. It was cold and muddy, so that was out of the question, but I opened up the psalm section randomly on my walk and found Psalm 145 again. It has been on my mind since, and so I offer it as a meditation for this Thursday morning.

I am using the King James Version because it is now in the public domain, and it’s more poetic than some other translations.

Psalm 145
David’s Psalm of praise.

    I will extol thee, my God, O king;
And I will bless thy name for ever and ever.

    Every day will I bless thee;
And I will praise thy name for ever and ever.

    Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And his greatness is unsearchable.

    One generation shall praise thy works to another,
And shall declare thy mighty acts.

    I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty,
And of thy wondrous works.

    And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts:
And I will declare thy greatness.

    They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness,
And shall sing of thy righteousness.

    The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion;
Slow to anger, and of great mercy.

    The Lord is good to all:
And his tender mercies are over all his works.

10    All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord;
And thy saints shall bless thee.

11    They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom,
And talk of thy power;

12    To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts,
And the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

13    Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

14    The Lord upholdeth all that fall,
And raiseth up all those that be tbowed down.

15    The eyes of all wait upon thee;
And thou givest them their meat in due season.

16    Thou openest thine hand,
And satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

17    The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
And zholy in all his works.

18    The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
To all that call upon him in truth.

19    He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:
He also will hear their cry, and will save them.

20    The Lord preserveth all them that love him:
But all the wicked will he destroy.

21    My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord:
And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.[1]

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Ps 145.

Martin Luther’s Sacristy Prayer

“Lord God, You have appointed me as a Bishop and Pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon You Word. Use me as Your instrument — but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.”

Martin Luther, by Lucas Cranach the Younger, 1551 (Bamberg) Printed at Wittenberg by Georg Formschneyder