A stranger sat beside the bed
Of weariness and pain,
Speaking in loveful tones of Him
In whom to die is gain—
Pouring the balm of sympathy
Into an aching brain.
Thence, through dark, massive
To the lone culprit's cell,
Of Him who rent the captives' chains
She enter'd in to tell—
Of Him whose love is free as air,
Who "doeth all things well."
The hungry often sought for bread,
For ne'er from want's sad tale
She turn'd; but, knowing mortal pangs
Would oft again assail,
She loved the hungry soul to feed
With bread that doth not fail.
The thirsty she with drink supplied,
With clothes the shivering poor,
And never homeless stranger sought
In vain her sheltering door:
And all were told of better gifts
Through Christ to sinners sure.
Another, sick-beds, prison-walls,
Each type of human woe,
Pass'd daily by unheedingly,
Nor knew nor cared to know
The bliss of causing mourning hearts
With joy to overflow.
The same sun shone above them both,
The same all-fostering care,
Like precepts and like promises
Each heart was ask'd to share;
And not unlike the crosses, too,
That each was made to bear.
But ever, as one walk'd the earth,
With tenor calm and even,
With heart and eye on Jesus bent,
There fell a voice from heaven—
"A still small voice "—which sweetly said,
"Thou unto Me hast given.
"I was an hunger'd, and you
Was thirsty, you supplied
"With drink; was as a stranger here,
You oped your portals wide;
Sick, naked, and in prison, you
To cheer and comfort hied!
"For, inasmuch as you have e'er
Been ready to befriend
The sick and poor beloved of Me,
Their every want to tend,
And share their sufferings obscure,
I own you as—My Friend!"
And ever, as the other went
Upon her lonely way,
There fell, of more than mortal grief,
A voice, which seem'd to say,
"I needed you to cheer
You coldly turn'd away!"
Perchance nor one nor other heard
Those accents from the skies,
And low in dust each lifeless form
Now in the churchyard lies;
But each, to hear that voice divine,
Must soon to judgment rise.
Oh, then to have our lot with hers
Whose record, writ in love,
Christ shall proclaim—whose works of faith
Shall shine like stars, to prove,
Beyond a doubt, her heart was fix'd