Thursday 30 April 2015


Some things remain through 60 years
Your married life has seen:
The PM's an Etonian toff,
Elizabeth's still queen.

Still Mr Hutson lovingly
Will whisper Hazel's name
And thinks his Hazel wonderful,
While Hazel thinks the same.

And by some miracle of grace
- Despite what some declare -
No shade of variation harms
The shade of father's hair.

Some trends reverse as Edith and
As Scilla will attest
Those ancient parents we once found
Now have a youthful zest.

But what has marked these sixty years
Through joy or pain or shock
This was a marriage founded on
Christ Jesus as the Rock.

Through joy and sorrows year by year,
Through pleasures or alarms
They know that underneath them are
The everlasting arms

Through sixty years' experience
Of God the Father's care
They can take up another's words
And joyfully declare:

God's perfect love by Christ made known
It sets our hearts aglow;
It gives us to respond to Him,
And makes our praises flow.

Written for the diamond wedding of my parents-in-law on 23 April.  The last verse was by my mother-in-law's father. 

Wednesday 29 April 2015


Did I ever go over with you my notion

Of the ideal village, such as will inhabit

The world to come?  These are the archetypes

Which would dwell there: firstly, the priest,

For I understand that priests on earth

Will officiate again.  Then the head man,

To a Scot, the Laird.  Under the shepherding

Of these two will be the ploughman or peasant,

Garnering abundance; the shepherd or fisher,

Folding abundance; and the soldier or sailor,

Wars now over, pensioner of the abundance.

There will be the pilgrim, the village’s journeyer

To Jerusalem – for the nations will flow to it.

Finally the poet, or psalmist, or bard. 

From this developed the custom of testing

Persons against the archetypes.  King David

Or King Charles, James Graham

Or Jacob – Rosalie, and Marina and me:

We have all been measured against this standard.  

And since perfection in manhood is Christ

These have been measured rather against

Him. If He is priest we have to expand the title

To Great Priest, for the quality of His priestliness,

To High Priest, for the dignity of His priesthood,

And for the scope of His service – Minister

Of the holy places.  To whom else could belong

The title, Prince of the princes of the Levites!  

And He is Lord of all; certainly because

Of who His is in those other dimensions

He is at home in, but because, too,

Of His worth, of His walk and of

His achievements.   He has displayed Himself as Sower – but all

Of the landsman’s crafts have correspondence

In the Lord’s activities; but He has exceeded

By graciously broadcasting seed irrespective

Of the quality of the ground.                               

As shepherd The Good Shepherd has expended His vigour

For us, and deliberately offered Himself;

As the Great Shepherd has forged through death

A path for us; and as Chief Shepherd engaged

Shepherds for our good.                         

                                But who is conqueror

Like Christ?  That constrictor death, and that

Venomous serpent Satan both dungen:

Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro!  

Someone questioned my referring to Christ

As a pilgrim.  To me a pilgrim is a person

With an objective – and who fulfils the description

As fully as Christ?  For He came from the heart

Of God to the cross and pioneered for us the path

From the cross to the heart of God.

                                                 But what

Of psalmist?  Each production of the range

Of poet and hymn-writer from Pentecost -

And the ancient psalmists and prophets – were makars

At the hand of the great Maker.

"To Gislebertus" was a bit of a blog before blogs had begun.  


Tuesday 28 April 2015


Wanderings, tergiversations, vacillations.
I have trodden the wilderness,
Thirsted, hungered and murmured:
Stumbled back towards Egypt
(Through grace moated by the Sea);
Plunged headlong to Hormah
To force the land in my strength,
And trawled through sand and rock:
Even, in some seasons, followed
The Ark to our resting place.

For I have tasted the grapes of Eshcol
And seen in spirit the fertile land:
Milk and honey are to my taste:
And I, like Caleb, have the land in my heart.

But more - I know the One
Who bore me to this waste
Will plant me in His mountain,
His fixed and purposed place.

Monday 27 April 2015


A Song

Because the work of grace is done,
I love the Father;
Because He did not spare His Son,
I love the Father;
Because He saw me in my need,
And watched and blessed and loved and freed,
And fitted me as love decreed
I love the Father.

Elect before time had begun,
I love the Father;
Drawn by His favour to the Son,
I love the Father;
Because He marked me out before
For joys that flourish evermore
Released to me from heaven's store
I love the Father.

Because my distance made Him run,
I love the Father;
Because He gave me to the Son,
I love the Father;
Since I am kissed, since I am blessed,
Since I am clothed in Christ, His best,
Since I am welcomed to God's rest
I love the Father.

Thursday 16 April 2015


In forest darkness,
Under the wilderness glare
Or on the pleasant grasslands,
Acme of strength, He moves,
Breaking straight paths to
The watercourses.

Hearing, beyond the ear of man,
Scenting, beyond the scent of man,
Touching, as man cannot
He senses ‑ superior
In feeling as in power.

His preciousness,
His shining strength,
Intrinsically grand in life
Becomes available
Only in death.

And men collude,
Rulers, soldiers, silver‑touts;
He is betrayed, encompassed,
Who is
"Chief of God's ways".

Job 40: 19 refers to the behemoth as "chief of God's ways".

Wednesday 15 April 2015


Almighty God  - give judgments to the King
And He will judge  according to Thy will!
He will do justice to those whom sin afflicts:
By righteousness  peace will flow from the hills;
He will descend  as a delicious smirr
While grace and truth  will both be flourishing;
Kings of the earth  will render precious gifts
And all mankind  will own His rulership.
Each day He shall be blessed:  and He shall live
While corn shall pullulate  from fertile tilth
Even upon  the mountain’s loftiest ridge:
Seeing His glory  let all the people sing!

Monday 13 April 2015


You had them all ‑ the ivory throne
With guardian lions; the palace of the house
Of Lebanon; vast revenues of gold;
Widespread domains and exotic embassies;
Each day's thirty oxen, its hundred sheep,
Harts and gazelles; a splendid palanquin
Enhanced by your sixty swordsman escort;
You had them all ‑ but not these only ‑
To probe a matter, the glory of kings,
One sword for wisdom and for justice,
Solutions to enigmas, three thousand proverbs,
With your own ascent to your God's house,
And desire and skill for songs and psalms ‑
All the accoutrements of monarchy.

And of these songs one only was the Song of Songs,
Depiction of love and beauty, the incomparable ode
To rapture of love, loveliness, cruel jealousy ‑
The symbols apt in their sensuousness, apt to love,
Apt in their spirituality ‑ breathed through the love of God.

Not gardens only, nor beds
Of spices, interested you ‑
You knew the value of tillage:
"He who tills will be satisfied
With bread"; "Manual labour
Will increase wealth"; "Truth
And mercy will attend those
Who plough good". These were
Your kind of adage. But,
Did you follow your own advice?

Sunday 12 April 2015


You may know the interpretation
Of each passage. But for a moment
Think of it like this - each one
Clung to something of Jesus; whether
In peace or war, whatever they confronted
They clung to Him. Oh! let me follow their
Example, cling to Christ if in conflict,
Lean on Him in worship. And if we
Can speak of one who will keep us
Without stumbling, how are we sustained?
Depending on our Lord Jesus Christ. 

This and "Staffs" come from a general contemplation of wood: see

Friday 10 April 2015


Benaiah, the soldier,
Could use his staff as a weapon
To wrest the Egyptian’s spear.

David, the psalmist,
Knowing God’s staff and rod
Bore his own staff to the conflict.

Jonathan, gatherer,
Used his staff at the time of his triumph
To harvest honey.

The princes, princely,
Dug with their staves
The well in the plains.

Aaron, the priest,
Was possessor of the rod which
Budded, blossomed, and brought forth almonds.

Moses, shepherd,
Had the staff of God
For authority and supply.

And Jacob, wanderer,
Home at last,
Worshipped on the top of his staff.

Thursday 9 April 2015


Spoils of war,
Tributes of nations,
Tokens of affection - all
Safe under the hand of
Azmaveth the son of Adiel.

Store, where it was needed -
Not only in country cities or valleys
But in towers, was garnered
Under Jonathan, son of Uzziah.

Garnering needs tillage,
Ground working, skill and patience:
Over those who work this
Ezri the son of Chelub.

If Shimei cared for the vineyards,
The live trees and their culture,
Zabdi the Shiphmite applied
His knowledge to the preservation
Of the wine stores in the vineyards.

From the lowlands fertility
Sprung sycamores and olive trees;
Baal-hanan the Gederite
Had charge of them.

Joash had a large responsibility
The fulness of the olive,
Cellars of oil.

For the herds in the plains by the sea -
Shitrai the Shilonite;
For the flocks in the valleys -
Shaphat the son of Adlai:
That the house of God and the house of the king
Might have rich supply.

Unclean beasts, the camels,
Unclean the Ishmaelite herder, Obil,
But mercy and need
Brought all into service.

Redeemed beasts, the asses,
Redeemed Jehdiah their carer
Since their lord had need of them.

And over the flocks, another
Subject of the sovereign fiat,
Was Jaziz the Hagarite.

All these were comptrollers
Of the substance which was king Davids.

(1 Chronicles 27: 25-31)

Wednesday 8 April 2015


For when the conquest would restart
God found a man after His heart
Who would do all His will;
As Christ in beauty fills our view
Abundant blessing will ensue
Through what He will fulfil.

David, through all life's storms and calms
Distilled experience into psalms
For God's unending praise;
And Christ now, as He moves and tends
Our souls wakes worship which ascends
In anthems that we raise.

Affection and affliction shared
In the material prepared
For what his son would build;
Love answers love to bring us near
While suffering shapes how we appear
So that God's house is filled.

Trumpets and singers in accord
Proclaim the glory of the LORD:
The house fills with the cloud;
Now glory fills the courts above
And sons praise with united love,
Reverent, but uncowed.

Tuesday 7 April 2015


A fit place for the Ark he longed to find
When he was still a youth in Bethlehem;
So as the king he firstly had in mind
To bring it upward to Jerusalem.
But when they took the Ark when he was spurned,
And Absalom his son usurped his throne,
David ordained that it should be returned:
He would not make the Ark of God his own.

Peter loved Christ, rejoicing to belong
To such a Master, who did all things well;
But "Peter taking Him to him" was wrong
And moved by impulses Christ had to quell.

May I delight to call the Saviour mine
But on His terms, since He remains divine.

Monday 6 April 2015


Using the fleshly notion of a cart
They sought to carry up the Ark, but failed.
When they eschewed the ways of human art
And went by God's due order they prevailed.
And what a time of holy jubilance:
Hear voice and music praise with one accord!
See David, in true fervour, play and dance
In honour of the glory of the Lord!

Often desires are good, objectives right,
But means wrong, till the way that God desires
Is followed; and He has for His delight
His Christ and those that glorious One inspires.

What joy it is to God that He should find
Those who give Christ the honour God designed!

Sunday 5 April 2015


A man went to the valley of trees
Lordly face like a sword-edge.
Goliath might scorn, Goliath might spurn
Loud as wolves his howls of disdain.
Ardent man, sapient man, distinctive man
David had pierced bear and lion.
Harsh in the skull he would drive his stone,
Accurate, brash weapon on brow.
At his feet the shield-lord bowed humbly,
Fleet Philistines, hero-wrenched, fled.

Saturday 4 April 2015


That boy! What’s he doing here
Leaving the sheep to the wilderness?

Where’s the kid off to now?
Seeing the king!

What does the lad look like
Happed up in a real man’s armour!

But look now - that youth is off
To play giant-killer!

See him - a young man against
An experienced man of war!

Here, did you see what my brother
Did to Goliath?

What a man!

Friday 3 April 2015


The movements of your cadences are lost from hearing;
The texture of your voice is a thralled secret.
Did regular rhythms underpin your structures;
Or were words secured by the clasps of rhyme?
The technique is beyond the scope of our imitation;
But the power of your themes excels our inspiration.
Your structure is nothing compared to your concepts,
Scorched in the forge of experience into soul.
Deep calls to deep among your swell of tides;
Light answers light above your sun-soothed lands.
Out of the shepherd, fugitive and warrior
Endurance worked the sweet psalmist of Israel.

And an Israel cored by Zion, the hill of His holiness,
Stretched by your vigour, built from the ramparts and inwards,
Struggled for from God's house outwards, founded
On the promises of God, reaching even to the Euphrates,
Each tributary nation giving gold for the house of God.

You came from the House of Bread,
The luxuriant valley, through the tent
Set for the sun to Saul's pavilion ‑
An Honoured, chilly place.
Soon the sky was your roof again,
Or the dank limestone of Adullam,
Wandering in deserts and mountains,
And in dens and caverns of the earth ‑
Mad in the Philistine's presence,
Priestly in God's tabernacle.
You found Jehovah your fortress
Even into your kingly palace.

Thursday 2 April 2015


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.

Wednesday 1 April 2015


Pre‑eminently David was a shepherd:
One with a heart his flock could all rely on.
He was no hireling but prepared to jeopard
His life to fight against the bear or lion
To lead his flock ‑ or lead his men to Zion.
But The Good Shepherd, Jesus, supersedes:
In love He suffered and in grace He leads.

Into the valley, humble yet defiant,
Confident in the way Jehovah led,
David went down to battle with the giant:
A skilful sling-stone smote Goliath dead
And David carried off his severed head.
Through greater depths and through exceeding woe
The Lord has quelled a more injurious foe.

Rejected and despised, a wanderer,
David found refuge in Adullam's cave;
And needy souls who gathered to him there
Because their debts were great or needs were grave
Found that he had ability to save:
Christ, who had once no place to lay His head
Is Saviour now as risen from the dead.

As God's anointed David had dominion
That ranged from the Euphrates to the Sea;
Hundreds of judgements hung on his opinion,
Myriads of minions hung on his decree
While Israel was glorious and free.
But Christ will shoulder just administration
As King of every people, tribe and nation.

To build the house of God was his desire
And under God he was its architect;
It was most worthy that he should aspire
To serve God in a place he would erect
But God refused to give his will effect.
Only through Christ could God acquire a place
To dwell with men in righteousness and grace.

David went in to sit before the ark
To hear Jehovah in complacency;
He laid aside his realm's and household's cark
And heard the promise God had to convey:
Sustained by this he rose and went his way.
But in God's presence our High Priest remains ‑
All things by love and vigour He sustains.

Whether the waters by his feet were calm
Or he was bruised by torrents of oppression
From each experience David formed a psalm.
He raised a hymn to God through his confession
And found a song as carried through depression.
But Christ now leads a heavenly company
Surrounding Him to praise eternally.