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Charlotte Bleh’s Collection of Favourite  Nursery  Rhymes, Poems and Prose Book
Spiritual Life


Times and Rhymes for My Spiritual Life

Here is the church, and here is the steeple;
Open the door and see all the people.
Here is the parson going upstairs,
And here he is kneeling,
A-saying his prayers.

***

One, two, three, four, five, six seven,
All good children go to Heaven.
Penny on the water,
Tuppence on the sea,
Thrupence on the railway,
And out goes she.

***

Heaven is
The place where
Happiness is
Everywhere.
Langston Hughes

***

Dear God,
Give us a flood of water.
Let it rain tomorrow and always.
Give us plenty of little slugs
and other luscious things to eat.
Protect all folk who quack
and everyone who knows how to swim.
Amen.

Carmen Bernos de Gasztold
The Prayer of the Little Ducks

***

Some ha’e meat that canna eat,
And some nae meat that want it,
But we ha’e meat, and we can eat,
So may the Lord be thankit.

Selkirk Grace
Robert Burns
(Great Granny McIntosh said this Grace every New Year’s Day.)

***

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature’s Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

William Wordsworth

***

On a starred night Price Lucifer uprose.
Tired of his dark dominion swung the fiend
Above the rolling ball in cloud part screened,
Where sinners hugged their spectre of repose.
Poor prey to his hot fit of pride were those.
And now upon his western wing he leaned,
Now his huge bulk o’er Afric’s sands careened,
Now the black planet shadowed Arctic snows.
Soaring through wider zones that pricked his scars
With memory of the old revolt from Awe,
He reached a middle height, and at the stars,
Which are the brain of heaven, he looked, and sank.
Around the ancient track marched, rank on rank,
The army of unalterable law.

George Meredith
Lucifer in Starlight

(A competition piece from my very early teens.  I think if I had learned
this after I had become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints I would have understood, and performed, it better.)

***

Tiger!  Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night.
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? And what dread feet?

What the hammer?  What the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the Lamb make thee?

Tiger1 Tiger! Burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake, The Tiger

***

Little lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life and bid thee feed
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little lamb, who made thee?

Dost thou know who made thee?
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee;
Little lamb, I’ll tell thee,
He is called by they name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Litttle lamb, God bless thee!

Little lamb, God bless thee.
William Blake

***

Tritemis of Herbipilus one day,
While kneeling at the alter’s foot to pray,
Alone with God, as was his pious choice,
Heard from without a miserable voice.
A sound which seemed of all sad things to tell,
As of a lost sould, crying out of Hell.

The Abbot paused, the chain whereby
His thoughts went upward broken by
That cry, and looking from his casement saw below
A wretched woman, with gray hair aflow,
And withered hands held up to him, who cried
For alms as one who might not be denied.

She cried, “For thee, dear love of His who gave
His life for ours, my child from bondage save.
My beautiful, brave, first-born chained with slaves
In the Moor’s galley, where the sun’s smit waves
Lap by the white walls of Tunis.”

“What can I give,” Tritemus answered,
“My prayers are with you always.”  “Oh, man of God,”
She cried, for grief had made her bold,
“Mock me not thus, I ask not prayers, but gold.
Words will not save him – alms alone suffice,
Even while I speak perchance my first born dies.”

“Woman,” Tritemis answered,
“From our doors none go unfed,
Hence are we always poor.
One single solda is our only store.
Thou hast our prayers.  What can I give thee more?”

“Give me,” she said, “The silver candlesticks on
Either side of that crucifix.
God may well spare the money therein sped,
Or he can give you golden ones instead.”
“Woman,” Tritemus answered, “even as thy word,
So be it.  Oh most gracious God,
Who lovest mercy more than sacrifice,
Forgive me if one human soul I prize
Above the gifts upon your alter piled.
Take what thou askest and redeem thy child.”
But his hand trembled as the holy alms
He placed within the beggar’s eager palms.
And as she vanished own the linden shade,
He bowed his head and for forgiveness prayed.

So the day passed, and when the twilight came,
He woke to find the Chapel all aflame.
And dumb with grateful wonder to behold,
Upon the alter, candlesticks of gold!

(I understand now that I learned so much more at Cita Angus’ elocution lessons that just drama, and public speaking, and in depth introduction particularly to Scottish and English literature.  It was the beginning of my learning about myself – understanding how to perform poetry and prose and drama required an understanding of the author’s philosophy and message to the reader and the audience.  Between the library books my mother would help me select, and bring home to me from the library when I was ill with winter chills or flu and learning so many great works, two wonderful women gave me tools to find myself.  We never used the term in Scotland of “by memory” when we learned to recite or sing or play an instrument without notes or music in front of us – we learned our performance pieces “by heart.”  This poem and the next are two of the many I learned in my early years with Miss Angus that remain part of my heart.)

***

God called the nearest angels
That dwell with him above,
The tenderest one was Pity,
The dearest one was Love.

“Arise,” he said, “my angels,
A wail of woe and sin
Steals through the gates of Heaven
And saddens all within.

My harps take up the mournful strain
That from a lost world swells
The smoke of torment clouds the light,
And blights the asphodels.

Fly downward to that underworld
And on its souls of pain
Let Love drop smiles like sunshine
And Pity tears like rain.

Two faces bowed before that throne,
Veiled in their golden hair.
Two angels traveled swiftly down
The dark abyss of air.

The way was strange, the flight was long,
At last the angels came  
Where swung the lost and nether world
Red wrapped in rayless flame. 

There Pity, shuddering wept,
But Love, with faith too strong for fear
Took heart from God’s almightiness
And smiled a smile of cheer.

And, lo, that tear of Pity
Quenched the flame whereon it fell,
And with the sunshine of that smile,
Hope entered into hell.

***

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Robert Louis Stevenson

***

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

William Butler Yeats

***

Lord, take me where you want me to go;
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what you want me to say,
And
Keep me our of Your way.

(Written by Fathter Mychal Judge, FDNY Chaplain, read at his memorial service
following the Twin Towers terrorist attack, New York City, September 11, 2001)

***

Now the day is over,
Night is drawing nigh.
Shadows of the evening,
Steal across the sky.
Jesus, give the weary,
Calm and sweet repose.
With thy tenderest blessing,
May our eyelids close.

(A verse speaking choir selection
from Miss Angus’ recitals.)

***
When you sit by the fire at twilight – alone – in your easy chair
Do you ever give a passing thought to God’s unending care?
To the life you live by His mercy, and His gifts to you each day?
Then ponder just a moment on the small return you pay.
He has given so freely and often and His gifts have been so great
That they seem beyond the range of our power to appreciate.

Do you think of those fellow-creatures who know no light of day,
Who never see the flowers, nor a little child at play,
Who cannot see a lov’d one’s face, nor the fields of waving corn,
Nor the moon and stars at evening, nor the rising sun at dawn?
Just try to imagine, if you can, their life in perpetual night –
Then thank the God Who made you for the priceless gift of sight.

There are those who cannot hear the song of birds borne on the breeze,
Who never hear the whispering wind, nor the sighing of the trees:
To whom the music’s sweetness and the human voice are dead:
Have you thought of their affliction and in your heart have said,
“To them all sound is silent, can I hold the gift too dear
That God to me has given – the ability to hear?”

For the power to think, to will, to act, to speak, to hear, to see;
For the sense of smell, of taste, of touch, bestowed on you and me;
For these we may show our gratitude to beneficent God above,
Through a power that all may use who will –the wondrous power of love;
By love of those less fortunate, by a kindly word or deed,
By comforting those afflicted and helping those in need,
By succouring those of the deafened ear, and the pitiful sightless eye,
By “doing to one another as we wish to be done by.”

Thus let us prove our gratitude for the rich gifts God has given
And pay, by kindly acts on earth, the debt we own to Heaven.

Edward R. Broadhead
(An elocution classes piece)

***

Now who would disillusion her,
The plain poor body, Widow Pryde,
Even if a flaming messenger
Dropped certain from life’s other side
To say her dearest dream had lied?

Child-births and burials, hospitals,
A crippled daughter tended long,
Sheer want at frequent intervals –
This is a tithe of what her strong
Spirit endured, nor bore as wrong.

And always whether sick or well,
At six her washing on the line,
And irons hissing till the bell
Of evening clangs its nine
Through winter dark or summer shine –
For surplices on surplices
She laundered for the village choir
Are mystical with messages,
Are lilies breathing by her fire
Pure bliss for her beyond the mire.

Behold her by her stint of blaze
Before her candle lit for bed.
What is the vision that repays
Years starved of colour, oft of bread,
And keeps unbowed her withered head?
Some heaven, and in it, a church like hers,
And God a Vicar glorified;
In speckles white the choristers,
Cherubic, from the vestry side
Step chaunting forth her laundry-pride?
Insufferably pathetic brow,
Unspeakably noble furrowed cheek,
Through which old sorrow drives his plough,
What is there left for life to wreak
Except the hoax we dare not speak?
Smile if you will, but pity her.

For who could bear those honest eyes
Brimmed with the last heart-breaking blur,
Finding in utter, blank surprise
Her one consoling dream was lies?

If God so saw her reft of speech,
He could not choose but straight invent
The simple heaven she hoped to reach,
And give her infiinite content
As laundress of the firmament.

Geoffrey Johnson (A competition piece)

***

For my mother , who gave life, October 2002 –

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying. At a certain moment a doctor will say that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.

When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine on my deathbed. Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others to live.

Give my sight to the man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of a woman.

Give my heart to a person whose own heart has caused nothing but endless days of pain.

Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.

Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.

Take my bones, my every muscle, every fibre and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Explore every corner of my brain. Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that, some day a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her window.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow. If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses, and all prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil.

Give my soul to God.

If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you.

If you do all I ask, I will live forever.

To Remember Me
Robert N. Test

***

God gave us fingers – Ma says, “Use your fork.”
God gave us voices – Ma says, “Don’t scream.”
Ma says eat broccoli, cereal and carrots.
But God gave us tasteys for maple ice cream.

God gave us fingers – Ma says, “Use your hanky.”
God gave us puddles – Ma says, “Don’t splash.”
Ma says, “Be quiet, your father is sleeping.”
But God gave us garbage can covers to crash.

God gave us fingers – Ma says, “Put your gloves on.”
God gave us raindrops – Ma says, “Don’t get wet.”
Ma says be careful, and don’t get too near to
Those strange lovely dogs that God gave us to pet.

God gave us fingers – Ma says, “Go wash ‘em.”
But God gave us coal bins and nice dirty bodies.
And I ain’t too smart, but there’s one thing for certain –
Either Ma’s wrong or else God is.

Shel Silverstein
Where the Sidewalk Ends

***

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr., RCAF
High Flight

***

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hate that I may bring love,
Where there is offence that I may bring pardon,
Where there is discord that I may bring union,
Where there is error that I may bring truth,
Where there is doubt that I may bring faith,
Where there is despair that I may bring hope,
Where there is darkness that I may bring light,
Where there is sadness that I may bring joy,
O Master, make me not so much to be consoled, as to console;
Not so much to be loved as to understand;
For it is in giving that one receives;
It is in self-forgetfulness that one finds;
It is in pardoning that one is pardoned;
It is in dying that one finds eternal life.

St Francis of Assisi

***

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound –
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

“Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved,
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures,
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Thru many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
That when we’d first begun.

***

And just a few thoughts about growing up in Scotland – I truly was raised in a home of belief, although due to circumstances of my mother being a single woman who had lost contact with her husband, my father, who living in America and my Grandmother being a World War I widow, faith was hard to come by. But my mother and Granny were seekers. Part of that search was through the Church of Scotland and another was through “Spookies’ Meeting.” I remember my mother taking me to those fairly regularly on a Saturday or a Sunday night to rented halls in the Nethergate, starting when I was about ten years old, I think.. Their official name was the “Church of the Spirit.” The group would sing hymns and have a prayer, then sing hymns some more. When a medium stood up and went to speak to somebody the room would quieten and everybody would listen to the “message.” It seemed like the mediums had their favourite hymns that would bring on their “Spirit Guide” who would bring the message from loved one who had passed on “to the other side.” My mother never socialized in the team time afterwards, and never gave away family secrets, and she would sometimes cry when she recognized messages from her brother, Eric, especially. The Spookies were where I learned these two hymns – I stopped going with my mother when I was about twelve. The medium who organized one of the groups, someone whom I had said hello to often and who was the one my mother seemed to trust the most, came up to my mother one night and told her he had a message for me. The message was that I should be “confirmed” into the church because there was a great work for me to do. That was the end of it for me! Looking back, I believe there was some truth there – I am a woman of faith (more so when things are going well in my life!), I’m an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, throughout my life I’ve felt the presence of my dead ancestors accompanying me and even angels protecting me, I’ve had my most special moments when I’ve felt my dear John come close to me “from beyond the veil” and my great joy in life is finding my ancestors for Temple work submission and writing stories and creating books like this so my children and their children will know that their first home and our final destination is with God in Heaven.

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
O, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ‘twas on that old cross, Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where his glory forever I’ll share.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

George Bennard, 1913

***

Last night I lay a-sleeping,
There came a dream so fair -
I stood in old Jerusalem beside the Temple there.
I heard the children singing and ever as they sang
Methought the voice of Angels from Heaven in answers rang;
Methought the voice of Angels in Heaven in answer rang.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, lift up your gaze and sing;
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, lift up your gaze and sing;
Hosanna in the Highest,
Hosanna to your King.

And then methought my dreams had changed,
The streets no longer rang.
Hushed were the glad Hosannas the little children sang.
The sun grew dark with mystery and the moon was cold and chill
As the Shadow of a Cross arose, upon a lonely hill.
As the Shadow of a Cross arose, upon a lonely hill.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, lift up your gaze and sing;
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, lift up your gaze and sing;
Hosanna in the Highest,
Hosanna to your King.

And once again the scene was changed
To other scenes to be.
I saw the Holy City beside the tideless sea.
The Light of God was on its streets, the gates were open wide,
And all who would might enter in
And no one was denied.

No need of moon or Star by night,
Nor sun to shine by day.
It was the New Jerusalem, that would not pass away.
It was the New Jerusalem that would not pass away.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, sing for the night is o’er;
Hosanna in the Highest, Hosanna for ever more!
Hosanna in the Highest,
Hosanna for ever more!

The Holy City


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