Monday, August 29, 2022
Another poetic genre, besides hymn-writing, favoured by William Williams was the elegy; he wrote several elegies in memory of Methodist leaders and other well-known Christians. He also wrote original prose works, and translated others from English.
To English-speakers his best-known hymn is “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” which is often used on official state occasions including at the funeral of Princess Diana, and at the weddings of both of her sons. Outside of church use, it is commonly referred to as the “Welsh Rugby Hymn,” because it is frequently sung by the crowd at rugby matches in Wales.
The following poem was translated from the Welsh by Tony Conran (who was profiled here two years ago). It is included in the forthcoming anthology To Heaven's Rim: The Kingdom Poets Book of World Christian Poetry, Beginnings to 1800 ― edited by Burl Horniachek.
The Love of God
Always across the distant hills
I’m looking for you yet;
Come, my beloved, it grows late
And my sun has almost set.
Each and every love I had
Turned unfaithful to me at length;
But a sweet sickness has taken me
Of a love of mightier strength.
A love the worldly don’t recognise
For its virtue or its grace,
But it sucks my liking and desire
From every creature’s face.
O make me faithful while I live,
And aimed level at thy praise,
Let no object under the sky
Take away my gaze!
But pull my affections totally
From falsities away
To the one object that keeps faith
And shall for ever stay.
Nothing under the blue air now
Would make me want to live
But only that I’ll know the joys
That the courts of God can give.
Relish and appetite have died
For the flowers of the world that fall:
Only a vanity without ebb
Is running through it all.
Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.