Sunday, 20 January 2019


"Had I an angel's raiment - fair
With heavenly gems unpriced,
That glorious garb I would not wear,
My robe is Christ."

Had I a worldly sovereign's food
All delicately spiced
I would not find its substance good,
My food is Christ.

Were a king's honours offered me
I would not be enticed;
Since He has died to set me free
My glory's Christ.

Had I the world and all its store
I would not be sufficed;
My empty heart would long for more,
My wealth is Christ.

Had I a monarch's lofty throne
With deckings rich and fine
That paltry place I would disown -
Christ's place is mine.

The first verse is from a poem originally in German by G Ter Steegen.

Thursday, 17 January 2019


Doubtful, yet leadable, he joined a while
One who, since grace was poured into His lips, shone
In glory greater than once quelled the Egyptian,
From whom that grace meant he would not resile.
"An Israelite, in whom there is no guile",
Was Christ's immediate benign ascription;
He recognised himself in Christ's description,
And thus acknowledged it in guileless style.

And how much opened to Nathaniel:
The One who saw him and his fig-tree was
The Son of God, the King of Israel;

And life beyond old Israel's roots begun
To dawn upon Nathaniel's soul because
He glimpsed the glory of the Son of Man.

Thursday, 10 January 2019


Christ has, in answer to His heart,
Without man’s work or gilding,
But glorified though heaven’s art,
A vessel of His building.

A vessel formed for His delight
Is what His glorious church is;
He gave up all, so that He might
Have it by right of purchase.

And she is His since God ensured
Christ should not be alone:
The counsel of His will secured
One fit to share His throne.

How great the joy which will be His
In glory at His side,
Because the Holy Spirit is
Her help, and strength, and guide.

Saturday, 5 January 2019



What a cluster of glories:
Robed by his father
In purity of byssus, scarlet’s
Royalty, imperial purple,
Heavenly blue, gold …

He went forth from his father
From the vale of Hebron
Seeking the welfare of
His brethren; “Come”, they said,
“And let us kill him …”

He went down into the pit,
Stripped of his brilliant coat;
Down into Egypt,
Down into slavery,
Down, down, into the prison house.

Pharoah gave Joseph his ring, dressed him
In byssus, adorned him
With a gold chain!  He made him ride in
The second chariot.  And they cried before him,
“Bow the knee!”

What a cluster of glories:
Skilled in playing; valiant,
A man of war, skilled
In speech; of good presence:
Jehovah is with him.

He went forth from his father
Bearing food from his father,
Parched corn and loves,
For his brethren. “I know” said Eliab,
“The naughtiness of thy heart”.

He went down into the valley
Of terebinths; down to the brook;
Down to the five smooth stones:
There in the ravine
He smote the giant.

Returned to his kingship, receiving
All that had been lost, he appealed
To his own, and David bowed
The heart of all the men of Judah
As one man.

What a cluster of glories:
The Son of His love, in whom
Is redemption; Firstborn
Of creation; Firstborn
From among the dead

He went forth from the Father
As the Man of His counsel
And He came to His own with
Words of grace and truth.  “This” they said,
“Is the heir: come let us kill him”.

He went down from the height of glory
To manhood; down to a bondman’s form;
Down to the death of the cross;
Down to the stone-closed grave;
Down to the bottoms of the mountains.

God has exalted Him, and will ensure
That every knee shall bow at
The name of Jesus; but now
The Lord has delight in
Hearts bowed to Him.

This follows from thoughts at


Read by rows or by columns.

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


(for Rosie)

A new year has begun: and swells of change
Will surge behind and swirl around our boat;
As days move on landscapes will rearrange
And through grace only will we stay afloat.
Yet as our curragh rushes on we'll know
There is within a place we love to share
Since though the currents drive and torrents flow
We're nurtured by a wife and mother's care.

And up above the sun, in changelessness,
Provides a fixed point, rule, and warmth and light;
It constancy rebukes our fickleness;
It brightness warms us still and makes us bright.

Since God's great love in Christ casts out all fear
We voyage together through another year.

Written for New Year 1996

Friday, 28 December 2018


In fitted to
The day’s fineness then sun
Sank into a bank of cloud.

But shortly it shone again
Beneath the cloud, before
Sinking behind the hills.

Yet still three angel forms
Hung in full sunshine;

I thanked the Father
For sunshine beneath the cloud.


And then, a final grace
The full moon rose upon Kirkwall.


Tuesday, 25 December 2018


A wise man? No; nor
A professional, but bowing
To Him I may find, "Christ
God's power and God's wisdom.

No angel: but a fallen creature
Lifted by Him.  Perhaps
As I bow to the Lord, He
May make me His messenger.

A poor shepherd, failing
In skill of hand, integrity
Of heart, yet I can bow to
The chief Shepherd.

A sheep, wanderer
In byways - but ready
To hear the Master's voice:
Lord: thus I come to Thee.

Sunday, 23 December 2018


Rosemary by the Wigtown monument

The waters were to the ankles:
Well had these feet followed
The Master’s footsteps.

The waters were to the knees;
How had she bowed to Christ
As the church’s only Head!

The waters were to the loins;
Where man’s ties bound her to the stake:
Where her love bound her to Christ.

A river that could not be passed through:
For if men made the waters vanquish her
She more than conquered, buoyed in love’s ocean.

The stone in the churchyard