Thursday 31 January 2013


And Mark presents Christ in obedient service
Who came from God conveying God's own message,
Good news for men, salvation and repentance.
He healed the sick, preached to the poor and fed them;
Immediately blessed one and then the next one
Although denied even the merest leisure.
Then He inducted the twelve to serve and sent them
To preach the kingdom and magnify the blessing.
The word was good; He spoke it in perfection:
Yet by this world the favour was rejected
To demonstrate the depths of man's perversion
In turning from the Christ, God's ideal servant.

Wednesday 30 January 2013


Yet children also are prominent in Matthew
And even Jesus is mentioned in that fashion;
Only he mentions results from Herod's anger:
The tiny infants the wanton soldiers martyred;
Christ noticed children while they played in the markets
And took one to Him to serve as an example;
When some were treated as if they did not matter
Jesus was gentle and glad to see them gather  
Replete with blessing He touched them in compassion.
Till from their praises He had the perfect answer
To all the sorrows that met Him in His pathway:
Within the temple the children cried "Hosanna".

Tuesday 29 January 2013


Matthew presents the glory of His kingship:
As Son of David Christ came to take His kingdom,
Bringing the words of prophets to fulfilment.
His people chose to greet Him with derision
And to prefer the pathway of perdition.
As He announced the good they were dismissing
And preached the kingdom foretold in many scriptures
His patient grace was never intermitted.
He showed the glory He rightly should be given,
Proclaimed repentance that they might be forgiven
But in the end proved that which had been written:
The sheep were scattered: the Shepherd must be smitten.

Monday 28 January 2013


When Jesus blessed He did not end at that
But always found some extra touch to add:
Legion He left not only healed but clad;
One blind man saw but also found a path
In which to follow Him who repelled the dark;
Christ raised the maiden then mercifully asked
For food for her to guard against relapse;
The paralytic, before his ailment passed,
Found he was given the secret of God's heart:
His sins forgiven, himself secured from wrath;
Another blind man although himself outcast
Gained knowledge of the glories of the Man.

Sunday 27 January 2013


He raised the dead: advancing into Nain
He saw them carry the bier out of the gate;
He saw the mother, widowed and desolate,
And He was moved with pity, love and grace.
He touched the bier - a touch of potency -
And when it stopped His word was "Youth, awake!"
Death had to bend to power that was so great;
And willingly He went to touch the maid:
He cleared the feigning mourners out of the place
And with His few moved quickly and displayed
Mercy and power touching her where she lay,
Restoring her  - "her parents were amazed."

Saturday 26 January 2013


His grace was not confined to Israel
- All who had needs He diligently blessed:
The anxious mother who cried to Him for help
He tested first and when she stood the test,
Glad of her faith, He granted her request;
Or the centurion, one who confessed
Authority, and his unworthiness
Received by faith his servant in good health;
Or the poor woman Christ found beside the well:
He took His place by her, gave hope to her,
Wakened her conscience and caused her to repent,
And then revealed that He was Christ Himself.

Friday 25 January 2013


While He was in the world He was its light
And if the scribes replied to Him with jibes
While Pharisees would constantly deride
It only proved they blindly led the blind.
But there were those who came to Him for sight
And He responded with power that was divine,
Endowing light He only could provide.
As He progressed He gladly turned aside
Since this fulfilled His Father's full delight,
For with their sight He also gave them life
Letting His light perpetually shine
Within their beings and there annulling night.

Thursday 24 January 2013


In grace and power He cast out many demons
Combating thus immediate powers of evil;
When some confessed the majesty of Jesus
They were rebuked for He would not receive it.
From demon power He gave a dumb man freedom
And men were moved to see that Christ released him;
One blind and dumb was brought to Him for healing
Who quickly found himself clear from uncleanness
While Satan's rigour seen in the man named Legion
In full display was broken by Christ's dealings:
The people wondered to see the wild man seated,
Sensible, clothed and in the power of reason.

Wednesday 23 January 2013


A leper came to Jesus in confidence
That He was One omnipotent to cleanse:
But He had doubts about Christ's willingness.
He found a Man with more desire to bless
Than his desire to flee so sore a death,
Who freely handled him and was his Friend.
And, as for one, so was the Lord for ten
Whom first He tested in their obedience,
"Go to the priests, as evidence to them";
And they obeyed but even though they went
He had more joy in one come to confess
The glory of His grace than in the rest.

Tuesday 22 January 2013


When Christ came in each problem was resolved - 
When he touched Simon's distraught mother-in-law
The fever left and she could serve the Lord;
When at the feast the hosts were at a loss
With circumstances becoming untoward
The Lord instructed to fill the water pots:
Immediately best wine brimmed to the top.
Or, when He went into the house of God
And saw the merchandise that filled its halls,
He carefully prepared a scourge of cords
And angrily drove out each sheep and ox
In righteous fury with men, who warped God's laws.

Monday 21 January 2013


In every step His love to man was proved;
Each action showed compassion for the poor
While every case caused mercy to exude:
His active grace left man without excuse
When in each problem God's love was introduced.
Lepers whom men were anxious to exclude
His mercy touched and quickly they were cured;
The blind were given sight, the bound were loosed,
Limbs that were maimed regained their proper use.
In every circumstance there was the proof
Of mighty power - but still His heart was moved.
His spirit bore all that His power removed.

Sunday 20 January 2013


Under the tutelage of John the Baptist
The first two came by influence and attraction.
Simon was next, found by his brother Andrew,
Following Christ and owning Him as "Rabbi".
But soon they came because of His commandment
Acknowledging He was their Lord and Master:
Upon His call they left their ships and tackle,
With James and John called even from their father.
Without regret they left abundant catches
To be with Christ and learn of greater matters.
As firstfruits of the precious seed He scattered
They quickly found to be with Him was grandeur.

Saturday 19 January 2013


Luke loves to note the details of that day:
The town of Nazareth to which He came,
His holy custom and the devoted ways
In which He stood or sat or found the place.
He passed the verses that spoke of Him as great
And ones that told of all He was to bear
But stopped before the treading of the grapes.
He chose the words which demonstrated grace,
Which He could say were all fulfilled "today".
But when He spoke of Gentiles who were saved
All in the synagogue were filled with rage:
Through murderous attempts He went His way.

Friday 18 January 2013


He went the way in which the Spirit led,
Although Mark writes, stressing His holiness,
"The Spirit drives Him ...into the wilderness."
There He endured not only heat and dearth
But Satan's vain essays to try and test.
These bitter trials allowed Him to express
Perfect dependence   not speaking from Himself:
"By God's word men shall live, not just by bread".
Despite His might He owned He would not tempt
The Lord His God, nor worship someone else:
Against such worth, Satan, defeated, fled  
The strong man bound, the Stronger raids his wealth.

Thursday 17 January 2013


The Baptist preached of Him that was to come
Acknowledging the Christ's superior worth;
"Repent! Repent!" he vehemently urged,
Striving to smooth the places that were rough.
John owned the Lamb by whom all would be done
To take away the evil of the world;
He learned the grace of the incarnate Word
Who saw baptism as not superfluous
Identifying with those in whom God worked.
And John beheld the Spirit, as a dove,
Gladly descend upon the holy One
Whom God extolled as His beloved Son.

Wednesday 16 January 2013


We have few glimpses of the ensuing time
In what evangelists were moved to write:
We see the day when as the holy Child
Within the temple Jesus was proved to find
His Father's business the motive of His life;
We know His growth was normal, yet sublime;
We know His deeds were normal, yet divine;
The prophet shows He learned to choose the right
While in obedience spurning the vile.
God loved to see a manhood undefiled
And loved to feel His perfect ways entice
The open heavens to tell of God's delight.

Tuesday 15 January 2013


But in Jerusalem there was a man
Who waited for the King with open arms;
He was alert because within his heart
He kept the secret - Messiah came at last!
Oh with what warmth he held Him in his grasp
While from his soul experience forged a psalm:
He saw the light for us who are afar
And envyless was full of jubilance;
He saw the glory this Infant would impart
To Israel though it be recalcitrant;
He was content that day should be his last
If, by the Spirit, he was Christ's celebrant.

Monday 14 January 2013


And at His birth the universe was moved:
Angels rejoiced in heavenly multitudes
While one proclaimed the blessing to ensue
For God and men, glory and peace and good;
The shepherds heard and gladly ran to view
The holy Child acclaimed King of the Jews
Whom they extolled with reverent attitude.
Even the heavens were active to produce
His special star at which the magi looked;
And at that sight straightway they were induced
To leave their homes to tread the stubborn route
To Bethlehem with gifts to contribute.

Sunday 13 January 2013


God sought a vessel in whom to work His ways;
By whom His Christ could become incarnate.
Mary was chosen - as filled with God's own grace
To bear that holy Thing and give Him care;
For she accepted the message when it came - 
Without demur she took her burden's weight
Giving no thought to the apparent shame:
What God required she willingly obeyed.
Then from her soul welled up a hymn of praise
To answer God and magnify His Name
Whose love and mercy Mary had proved so great
As He approached in glorious sovereignty.

Saturday 12 January 2013


Those who feared God and waited for redemption
For Israel would often speak together;
And God observed it and kept them in remembrance,
Regarding them as a peculiar treasure.
Old Zacharias maintained his priestly service  
Though faint in faith he offered in the temple
Partly prepared to heed the angel's message;
A greater faith Elizabeth presented
And she became a conduit of blessing;
Such souls as these gladly prepared to welcome
The Coming One affectionately expectant,
Within Judaea, an elevated setting.

Friday 11 January 2013


Isaiah spoke of One called Wonderful,
The Counsellor with words replete with truth,
The Mighty God disposing power for good,
The Father of the Age of perfect rule,
The Prince of Peace who makes the desert bloom.
This is the One who in perfection grew
Before Jehovah as would a tender shoot
  Though earth denied refreshment to its root.
This was the One who bore the bitter wounds,
This was the One it pleased His God to bruise,
This is the One now satisfied with fruit -
I love since I am one His work includes.

Thursday 10 January 2013


According to his vision each prophet spoke:
In Jeremiah, fire burning in his bones,
The Branch of Righteousness had been evoked;
Ezekiel saw the Man upon the throne
Yet in his body figuratively bore
All that the Son of Man for man has borne;
Messiah, Prince or the immaculate Stone
Filled Daniel's view and caused him to adore;
Thoughts of His glory and of God's world restored
Thrilled Zechariah and many prophets more;
Each prophet touched by God wisely foretold
The Man some glimpse of whom set them aglow.

Wednesday 9 January 2013


God said of him "He will do all my will",
"My servant David I have anointed him".
He was a man whose grace shone from within.
In each accomplishment he had great skill -
He could compose or play the harp, or sing,
Fighting the lion, or giant, he could win
Yet be a shepherd although anointed king.
Experience brought psalms into his lips
While to his God his heart would often lift.
Yet God forbad the height of David's wish
Because withal he had been marred by sin;
Others essay: One only can fulfil.

Tuesday 8 January 2013


I could recount of Gideon and Barak
Who in his time each had a place of favour
And who each showed a sign of consecration
That God could use for temporary salvation
For His own people in their dire desolation  
Yet God's Ideal they cannot be compared with;
Jephthah and Samson display the flesh elated:
Although God used them He found their rashness hateful;
Samuel wisely judged the chosen nation
But mourned too long the king God found distasteful:
At last God saw in His anticipation
A man after His heart when He found David.

Monday 7 January 2013


And the oblation foretold the holy life
Which God could own as all for His delight,
With every action and every motive fine.
As every detail was perfect in God's sight
Those who are God's can similarly find
Enduring pleasure despite surrounding strife.
The mingled oil recalls what was divine -
God manifest as holy love designed;
The anointing oil recalls the Spirit's sign
That He had One on whom He could abide;
And nothing there exalts man or excites.
The fragrance all is God's - the food is mine.

Sunday 6 January 2013


At God's desire according to His word
Vast quantities of sacrifices burned
And each foretold the Man who was to come,
Whose death would show the greatness of God's love.
Burnt offerings gave savour of the worth
Of Him whose good equipped Him for God's work;
Because that work would cleanse from sin and lust
Sin offerings presaged His precious blood;
Peace offerings gave promise of that One
Whose inward grace no incident perturbed,
Whose purity no enmity disturbed
And who provides delight for God and us.

Saturday 5 January 2013


But in that system what had the focal place?
What showed most fully the glory of God's name?
The Ark of God, small amid what was great.
There spoke to God of one Man's perfect ways
Acacia wood which formed its hidden frame;
While for His heart it preciously displayed
God seen in manhood through gold which overlaid.
And on the Ark the mercy-seat was placed:
Witness was there that blood had met sin's stain;
God's righteousness and love are both maintained.
The cherubim each fixed on it his face - 
God's rights in judgment are now sustained in grace.

Friday 4 January 2013


Upon Mount Sinai God showed His plan  
A tabernacle as centre of the camp.
He who approached the tent had first to pass
Altar and laver for cleansing heart and hand;
Within he saw the effulgent golden lamp,
Pure beaten work embellishing each branch;
The tables with the bread at God's command
Bearing its freight above the desert sand;
The golden altar sublimely odorant  
All spoke to God of the transcendent Man
Whom He would name as after His own heart,
By whom His full delight would be advanced.

Thursday 3 January 2013


While man in flesh displayed recurrent failure  
Failure of life even in such as Abel,
Failure in faith even in such as Abram,
Failure in honesty in such as Jacob  
Yet there were some whom God could view as faithful  
Enoch so faithful God took him by translation,
Noah so faithful that God desired to save him,
Abraham once restored, and his wife, Sarah  
While others yet could presage God's own Saviour:
The promised Isaac when God, in figure, raised him,
The sapient Joseph as leader of salvation
Administering grace among the nations.

Wednesday 2 January 2013


When first the light broke through the primal darkness;
When first the sun arose upon the planet;
When first God made the innocence of Adam,
Or built the woman who would assuage man's heartache;
When first a sacrifice appeased His anger
Or when He saw the blood of the first martyr
God had in mind another kind of Manhood,
A greater Light to lighten all of mankind,
A brighter Sun to light a grander landscape ‑
A sinless Man, obedient to His Father,
A sorer Sufferer who trod a harsher pathway
Until He gave Himself ‑ the better ransom.


This is part one of "Touching the King", a series relating to the Lord Jesus personally which I wrote some years ago.  I have posted all before, but will, if the Lord will, set them out day by day till the series is finished.

 The form is somewhat of my invention. It is based on my, possibly defective, understanding of the Old French laisse. The general principles are:
each stanza had twelve lines;
all twelve lines assonate, i.e. the last stressed syllable has the same vowel sound - full rhymes are usually accidental;
the basic measure is the so-called iambic, unstressed syllable followed by stressed;
each line has five stresses and a break after the second or third stress;
in a substantial minority of lines there is an additional unstressed syllable after the break or at the end of the line, or both.

Tuesday 1 January 2013


(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.