Monday, January 28, 2013

George Matheson

George Matheson (1842—1906) is a Scottish preacher whose poems come to us in the form of hymns. Several of them were included in the extensive anthology One Hundred Modern Scottish Poets (1886). His most famous contribution is “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go”.

Matheson studied philosophy and theology at the University of Glasgow, and was an award-winning student, despite his failing eyesight. His fiancee broke off their engagement when she realized he was going blind. He never married.

He wrote extensively on theology, church history, and current issues — with the help of his eldest sister, through a secretary, through eventually learning braille, and finally through the use of a typewriter. He served as a pastor for many years, eventurally moving to Edinburgh, where the University gave him an honorary doctorate.

Although he became blind, his poems often paint vivid visual images. He was able to discern light and shadow, which is worth considering when reading the following hymn.

They That Wait Upon The Lord

Lord, at Thy feet my prostrate heart is lying,
Worn with the burden weary of the way,
The world's proud sunshine on the hills is dying,
And morning's promise fades with parting day;

Yet in Thy light another morn is breaking,
Of fairer promise, and with pledge more true;
And in Thy life a dawn of youth is waking
Whose bounding pulses shall this heart renew.

Oh, to go back across the years long vanished,
To have the words unsaid, the deeds undone,
The errors cancelled, the deep shadows banished,
In the glad sense of a new world begun!

To be a little child, whose page of story
Is yet undimmed, unblotted by a stain,
And in the sunrise of primeval glory
To know that life has had its start again.

I may go back across the years long vanished,
I may resume my childhood, Lord, in Thee,
When in the shadow of Thy cross are banished
All other shadows that encompass me:

And o'er the road that now is dark and dreary
This soul, made buoyant by the strength of rest,
Shall walk untired, shall run, and not be weary,
To bear the blessing that has made it blest.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: