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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Organ Songs. III. “I would I were a child”

George MacDonald (1824–1905)

I WOULD I were a child,

That I might look, and laugh, and say, My Father!

And follow Thee with running feet, or rather

Be led through dark and wild!

How I would hold Thy hand,

My glad eyes often to Thy glory lifting!

Should darkness ’twixt Thy face and mine come drifting,

My heart would but expand.

If an ill thing came near,

I would but creep within Thy mantle’s folding,

Shut my eyes close, Thy hand yet faster holding,

And soon forget my fear.

O soul, O soul, rejoice!

Thou art God’s child indeed, for all thy sinning;

A poor weak child, yet His, and worth the winning

With saviour eyes and voice.

Who spake the words? Didst Thou?

They are too good, even for such a giver:

Such water drinking once, I should feel ever

As I had drunk but now.

Yet sure the Word said so,

Teaching our lips to cry with His, Our Father!

Telling the tale of him who once did gather

His goods to him, and go!

Ah, Thou dost lead me, God!

But it is dark and starless, the way dreary;

Almost I sleep, I am so very weary

Upon this rough hill-road.

Almost! Nay, I do sleep;

There is no darkness save in this my dreaming;

Thy fatherhood above, around, is beaming;

Thy hand my hand doth keep.

With sighs my soul doth teem;

I have no knowledge but that I am sleeping;

Haunted with lies, my life will fail in weeping;

Wake me from this my dream.

How long shall heavy night

Deny the day? How long shall this dull sorrow

Say in my heart that never any morrow

Will bring the friendly light?

Lord, art Thou in the room?

Come near my bed; oh, draw aside the curtain!

A child’s heart would say Father, were it certain

That it would not presume.

But if this dreary sleep

May not be broken, help Thy helpless sleeper

To rest in Thee; so shall his sleep grow deeper—

For evil dreams too deep.

Father! I dare at length;

My childhood sure will hold me free from blaming:

Sinful yet hoping, I to Thee come, claiming

Thy tenderness, my strength.