Kirtland Temple
A National Historic Landmark

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief

A poor wayfaring man of grief
Had often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer, Nay.

I had not power to ask his name;
Whither he went of whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love, I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered—not a word he spake!
Just perishing for want of bread;
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,

And ate, but gave me part again;
Mine was an angel's portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst,
Clear from the rock—his strength was gone,
The heedless water mock'd his thirst,
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.

I ran and raised the suff'rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drain'd my cup,
Dipp'd, and returned it running o'er;
I drank and never thirsted more.

'Twas night, the floods were out, it blew
A winter hurricane aloof;
I heard his voice, abroad, and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.


I warmed, I clothed, I cheered my guest,
I laid him on my couch to rest;
Then made the earth my bed, and seem'd
In Eden's garden while I dream'd.

Stripp'd, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side;
I rous'd his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied

Wine, oil, refreshment—he was heal'd;
I had myself a wound conceal'd;
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart,

In pris'n I saw him next—condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn;
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed.
And honored him 'mid shame and scorn.

My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked, if I for him would die;
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,
But the free spirit cried, "I will!"

Then in a moment to my view,
The stranger started from disguise:
The tokens in his hand I knew,
The Savior stood before mine eyes.

He spake—and my poor name be named—
"Of me thou hast not been asham'd;
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not thou didst them unto me."

Source: Joseph Smith, B. H. Roberts, ed, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1974) 6:614-615.

Information on hymn and: Carthage Jail
Outline of: Emma Hymn Festival
Kirtland Temple > Hymn Resources > Emma Hymn Festival > A poor wayfaring man of grief




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