Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways:
Re-clothe us in our rightful mind;
In purer lives your service find,
In deeper reverence praise,
In deeper reverence praise.

This old hymn is part of a longer poem ‘The Brewing of the Soma’ written by American John Whittier. The Soma was a plant, found in North India, to make a drink with intoxicating hallucinogenic properties that was used in Vedic religious rituals.

Priests and people would try to reach God through the frenzy and ecstasy of drunken religious experiences.

Whittier, a Quaker, says that the Christian music, incense and rituals, the hysterical trance-like experiences of the revival meetings of his day, are no better that the Vedic religious experiences. All are ‘foolish ways’.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord
Let us, like them, without a word:
‘Rise up and follow me,
Rise up and follow me!’

How do I meet God then – if not through meaningless man-induced religious experiences?

Service – My foolish ways need forgiving and my mind re-clothing. Through this humble preparation I respond to Jesus’ gracious call to ‘Follow me’. I serve him as his disciple.

Simplicity – Life is complex and complicated. I don’t need rituals or experiences. I find God in the simplicity of reverent praise, complete trust and selfless obedience. I simply follow Jesus.

Silence – I withdraw from the noise and pressures of life and religion. I meet God in the gentleness of stillness, silence and rest. It is in calmness and humility I encounter the loving, eternal God.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with thee
The silence of eternity
Interpreted by love,
Interpreted by love!


‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ was written in 1872 by John Whittier (1807-1892). It is the last 6 verses of the longer 17 verse poem ‘Brewing the Soma’ – worth looking up!

2 thoughts on “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

  1. Oh, you are so right. How refreshing to read a reference to the ‘noise and pressures of life and religion’. It is in the secret place, in silence, Psalm 91 Verse 1 that we are most likely to sense God’s presence.

    Sent from my iPad



    1. Understanding that Whittier was a Quaker helps in an understanding of the hymn; I agree – finding that place of quiet and calm in our lives – emotional, psychological. spiritual, physical – is vital.


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