With that deep hush subduing all
our words and works that drown
the tender whisper of your call,
as noiseless let your blessing fall
as fell your manna down,
as fell your manna down.
The American John Whittier was a Quaker. After early political disappointments and a nervous breakdown he campaigned passionately for the abolitionist cause.
He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, attending conventions, securing votes, speaking to the public, and lobbying politicians. He was met with violence and was mobbed, stoned, and run out of town.
Whittier wrote this hymn as an older man. As part of a longer poem, he said that some Christian rituals and traditions are no better than the frenzied, drunken experiences of tribal religions.
Whittier found God in quiet and calm.
Drop your still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of your peace,
the beauty of your peace.
Some try to find God through religious experiences – traditional or contemporary; others look for God in activity – in serving in their church or local community.
And yet often ‘strivings’ create ‘strain and stress’. We do not find God’s physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual, peace.
The God of the Bible does meet with people and does speak to them.
Elijah encountered God through the unexpected still, small voice. Repeatedly God spoke through the unexpected – the earthquake, wind or fire; the servant girl, leper, angel, donkey… or a gentle whisper.
And we listen for that voice that comes in unexpected ways, from unexpected people.
Breathe through the heats of our desire
your coolness and your balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire,
speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm,
O still small voice of calm!
‘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!