D Gibb Mitchell
Bi Babel's streams we sat us doun, an we grat as we mindit on Zion. Oor hairps we hung upo' the sauchs that wis growein in the mids o the place. Them that brocht us there plagued us ti sing them a sang. Them that herried us wad hae nocht but mirth cryin, "Sing us a sang o Zion." Wae's me! hou can we lilt a psalm on grund that's ayont God's keepin? Gin A slicht ye, Jerusalem, mey ma richt haun tine her skill. Gin A thinkna lang on ye, lat ma tongue gang dry in ma throat; gin A roozena yersel abuin aa that's dear ti me.--Ps. cxxxvii.
Hamely Thochts that Maks us Kin
We'r Scotland's bairns. We'v been born an bred in the land. Oor faithers an mithers haes been leal, eident, God-fearin fowk. Ilka neuk haes reared its ain. Some haes been cradled in the straths, some at the mountain fit, some on the windy side o the hill. Some haes been nursed bi the saut sea spray, an schuiled aside the rocks an storms. A wheen lairnt ti toddle in quait clachans, an a wheen grew up nearer haun, amang mair fowk. The cot, the shielin, the smiddy, the schuilhoose, the manse, the haa, haes sent their ain inti the warld!
It is fine ti hae a hame in bonny Scotland, some spot that we caa oor ain, that we can crack aboot an leuk back upo'. It hauds mony memories; it minds us o days lang by!
We'v aa ae land, ae tongue, ae God, ae kirk. We'r aa fowk prood o ane anither, an we staun shouther ti shouther! Here an there throu aa the globe we gang oot ti places o trust: ane ti the backwids, anither ti the gowd-diggins, ane ti the office, anither ti the mission-field. The warld needs Scotsmen as weel as fowk o ither tongues. The warld haes lairnt that men o grit is growen here, men that's no idle, men that can push on, men that's honest an God-fearin. They ar lippent til; they ryce, an syne fill saets o honour. This is the ring o the Scot; see that nane o us brings shame upo' the name sae lo'ed an leal!
We mauna come short in this generation--this clan o faimlies. We maun win up a stap abuin the last. (For God's sake, no doun.) Lat us lairn weel frae them that's gane--drappin their fauts, an gaitherin aa their guid. God's land is ti be bettered bi us. It's ti be dotted here an there bi the dwallers o oor hielands an lawlands. Throu the flicht o years an the wark o life we ne'er forget the hame-biggin, we ne'er forget oor land. Faur ower the sea oor thochts keeps comin hame. The lad that's left comes back wi grey hairs, an the first blink o land draws tears ti his een.
The brave lads o the Black Watch, efter years o service, cam back ti live oot their time in the auld glens. As their ship landit, the scaured veterans--aa that wis left--sprang frae the boats, loutit doun, an kissed the shore. Naething haed killed their likin for their wild, rain-battered island. Indi's sun, Afric's galore, couldna ding oot the memory o the burn, the hill, the auld hoose!
There's little fear that oor love for hame an country will be tint. But God--oor Makar--sall we mind Him as weel? Throu the flicht o years an the wark o life, God maun be mindit. He should come afore aa--hame or country. Better ti lat the birthplace oot o mind, an the country that reared ye, than lat God be mislippent. People o Scotland! we'v aye been prood o God an His commands. Oor herts haes hungert for His favour an blessin.
There's graves that's green spots. There's stanes that spaeks ti us o brave daurin. Oor freedom haes been dearly bocht; men's bluid dyed the heather--for conscience bade it. The auld Beuk is oor ain; nae man can rive it frae us. Oor Sabbath is oor ain; shuirly that day will be clean, the warld's traffic is no ti touch it. The Kirk is free; we can wale oor ain, nae vyce can cry us back.
We staun the day in a busy century. We'r amaist feart at the quickness o advance. New things comes ti licht ilka day, an afore we'v maistered ae ferlie anither sets us gapin again! Keek back throu a hunner years or mair, an tak stock o things as they wis. It's a lang cry frae the first rude implements ti the big steam hammer! It's a lang cry frae the scoopit tree-trunk ti the new-fangled steamboat! It's a lang cry frae the piece o cou-hide--that passed for siller--ti the gowden sovereign! It's a lang cry frae the tallow dip ti the new lichts o oor age! It's a lang cry frae the auld toun-moots ti the claiver o men in Parliament! Its a faur cry frae the weird, cloudy sicht that men haed o a Bein o pouer an mystery, ti the claer, siccar faith that fowk nou haes in their God! The mist haes liftit. The warlocks an witches o dark days is laid. Superstition an fuilish surmises is lauched at. The hodden things is redd up wi wice juidgement. We see throu what man couldna understaun. Science haes richtit an helpit us ti the daylicht!
It's guid ti be born at this time, ti be airt an pairt in the race for lairnin an progress. Ye'v a windae at the castle yetts, an ye can spy aa that's duin. There's aa sorts o men. There's a stramash; there's a hurryin o feet an a bustle o wark. There's some beginnin, some endin. There's some in the thick o the fecht. Some's daein weel, some badly. Some's rael an rings true; some's feignin, some's shams an soonds boss. Some plays their pairts sae weel that their fauseness isna kent!
Oor een rins ower the croud an we maun discern the worth that's ben in the body o the man. Dinna bou doun ti siller or dress. Ootward trappins coonts for little. Ye can vairnish a common stick an gar't leuk like aik. Ye can cleed a beggar an mak him seem a king; but the man bides the man--nae cleedin will chainge him ti ocht else. We maun hae nae pretence, naething pitten on for show. Vairnish rubs aff; it winna staun the drivin sleet an snaw. Grand polish'll no haud aff the dunts o the warld. It's the man that's o value; what he is in himsel, no what's on him. Plain claes is no signed aff for back streets. The wirkin garb haesna ti jink roond by-lanes an side-paths. The man in moleskins can fit the same street that the braw folk taks, an nae man can halt him. He can gang wi his heid up an his face erect, an be as guid a man as ony that passes him by. A honest hert mey beat aneath ony coat, be it cloutit or braw:
Ye maun be yersel. Soutars an tylers can deck us oot till we dinna ken oorsels. They'll gar us weer the newest style--laith tho we be ti hae it. We'r fain ti copy ithers. We think oor ain likin is ti be pitten aside. We'r feart ti say what we think, or dae what we ken is richt. We feel oot for the warld's opeenion. We'r bund in wi ticht ropes. We tine sicht o oor ainsel tryin ti fit in ti some ither's shuin!
It wisna the Makar's will ti hae His craturs aa in ae settin. Ye canna wale twa alike. Ilka leaf is itsel, an ilka tree growes its ain hicht. The potter sets oot bowles an jougs aa ae shape. His wheel will turn aff as mony as he likes. The Divine Potter wirks on anither plan. He maksna twa alike. The mould gangs wi the man; it is thrown awa. The babe is born new, an growes up a shape o its ain, an wi a sowel that nae ither haes. The Divine mould mauna be thrawn wi, or broken, or twistit. Ye'v nae richt ti tamper wi't. Growe up as ye'v been made. Be yersel. There wis never anither like you, an never will be. Ye'v yer ain neuk ti fill. Ye'v yer ain kist o brains, yer ain natur, yer ain bent an foresicht, yer ain pouers an speecial gifts. Hou can we belittle this original image, this new mouldin o Heeven, this pairson o oorsel that wis made for God's purpose!
We'v nae richt ti haud in what we ar. We'v nae richt ti soom in wi the lave. Staun aside an be yersel. Say, "This is me as A am, A am God's makkin an A'll lat the warld ken the haun that Heeven haes gien an spaek wi the mou as the wirds rice, an glow wi the gleam that haes come ti ma ee! I'll live ma quait, thochtfu wey; or aiblins wi sunny humour A'll brichten ma corner. A'v a merry hert, an A'll lat it bubble ower; meyhap it'll wile awa some hingin cloods, some vexin thochts. A'v a vyce, A can lilt. A am hamely an couthie, an folk walcomes me. A can write; the wirds comes aesy; A'll crack throu the post wi folk that's hungerin for a freend. Whatever A am, A'll be masel an keep the mould that God haes shapit me in."
In a dowie day the poet sayed that "man wis made ti murn". He wis sad himsel whan he sayed that. The sicht o a man seekin wark haed made him wae,--a man wi a hame an bairns, that couldna get wark. There's mony a thing ti crush doun the hert. There's muckle duil ti tak the spirit frae us. But man wisna made ti murn. Man wis made ti glorify God, an ti be biggit up for Him for aye. There's a well o joy that's sunk in him that ocht ti play throu life. Ay, it played bonny amang the folk lang syne--whan Scotland wis quait an slaw, whan folk wis few an saw little. Their wants wis simple an their lot pleased them. It wis then the field wis cheery wi the plooman's whistle, an the maid wi her pail liltit at the milkin, an the mither wi her fit on the cradle cruined it a sang!
What ails the folk that they'v luitin the liltin dee awa? What haes garred the faces thraw? What's come ower the backs that they'r sae boued? There's nae content, nae bidin at hame, nae bein satisfied wi little. Grummles haes taen the place o sangs; soor leuks for lauchs, an dimples, an smiles!
The muisic that's been hushed, can we no woo it back? Will it no ryce in the air again? Will this faur-on-time no coort it, an waft it oot ance mair? It's oor Makar's plan ti hae happy bairns. Their hert an their vyce wis gien them for ae tuin. Naething should quaiten't. Nae care, nae trauchle, nae mishaps should droun the tuin.
Lat this be the year for a new birth o sang. The joy o the Lord is in ilka breist: lat it oot, an there'll be a hertsome chorus frae the dwallers o earth. A sang can be sung in the mirkest oor, in the blackest nicht. We'r human; we'r fain tae hear the soond o ither vyces. Like the staawart men o the Greely band that pat throu the snell winter--aucht an twinty years syne--amang snaw an ice; that stuid thegither an read the psalms ilka Sabbath. They wis scrimp o breid an watter--wi nae scoug frae the nippin frost. They hertened ane anither wi Dauvid's sangs, an throu the lang awesome months ne'er tint hope.
A singin hert gars the feet gang; but guid freends, as weel, helps ti pit fettle in a man. Britherhood's a grand thing for folk traivellin the road o life. There's nae pairt o the road whaur ane can gang his lane. There's aye some near by--ahint, or afore. Oor guid John Wesley ance luit faa the words, "Ye maun aither finnd companions or mak them." There's nae sic thing as gaun ti Heevin alane. Ye can wale the best, an ye ken them bi ae sign: a leal freend draws us oot. We'r gled ti see him, an we unfauld oor hert as he cracks wi us.
But we canna aye be wi spirits akin. It's only nous an thans we'r alloued that happiness. We'v ti traivel bi the side o them that's pitten there. There mey be a girner, a duilfu trudger. There mey be a wastrel, ane ready ti halt, a frichtsome body. There mey be thir in ill luck, the sufferin, the pained. They aa hae need o a helpin haun. The road should be captained wi Great-herts ti spur an cheer on the laggards an trailers. The waeklin is gairded an brocht on bi the staawart.
A tree staunin itslane haes nae chance. Frae ilka airt the blasts blaws throu it. It bends an moans wi the storm. Haed mair been roond it--haed there been a wide belt o trunks an brainches swingin aside it--the clump thegither could hae stuid the stiffest blaw an risen again unscaithed, as hiegh an souple as ever. Lat nae man staun alane ti the fower winds. Be a bield tae the lanely, the tempit, an folk in haurd straits!
There's mony a chance comes reddy ti yer haun. Lat it gang an it winna come back. Ilka day haes its turn for ye, an ye maun lat nae time slip. The chances seems little worth eenou, an ye'll no fash ti kep them. They'r at yer door, but ye dinna heed! Gang on in this gate, an lang years efter ye'll wauken up wi a start! Ye'll be dumbfounert at what ye'v kickit frae ye, an tint! The gaists o chances'll staun afore ye wi their hollae grin. Their tauntin silence will gar ye grue. There's nae soond, but the sicht o them tells ye plain eneuch, "We'r gane--ye'r ower late." Oh, the gnawin fangs o remorse ower lost times! "Wad A could be young again, aa wad be different!" That's the wail o the auld; but the young can start richt, an tak a tellin. Begin as ye wad end yer days. Dinna wait an gie a wheen puir lean years ti yer God. Lat Him get the marrae o yer banes, the muscle an fou life-bluid, yer strength o manhood, yer fresh young greenness, the bloom an beauty o a pure life!
This haes been nae sermon, nae discoorse, nae lang screed wi pynts an heids; but a freendly talk, a chat ti cheer ye, ti pit spunk in ye, an mak ye gang hame thinkin on new things. It's hertenin we need, an kindly, hamely thochts; it's a grip o the haun, it's a clap on the back, it's a "haud on, brither." The warsle is grim an thrawn. Haud up yer heid an leuk on. The licht I Heevin is on yer brou. Whan yer face is on the blue abuin, yer hert maun ryce an it opens ti the dew o God's grace, an keps its ain drap.
A want ye ti gang yer wa's wi a bigger sowel, wi thochtfu stap an saerious mind. Folk's no what they seem. They hide a lot o care an weary trouble ahint their seemin prim leuks. Gang in an throu them. Be a Great-hert, be a joy-bringer, be a lifter-up. Tak the bairn an the wafflin in yer oxter. Gie a haun ti the callant beginnin ti slip!
There's muckle ti dae. There's sin ti fecht, wrangs ti richt, curses ti ding aff the land. We'v a dear hame-country ti better. God needs ane an aa. He haes a neuk for you, an ane for me. Gin we dinna fill it, nae ither'll tak oor place, an God will be short o a haun.
God fill us aa wi the grit o His Divine grace, an mak us leal an true for the land ablo an the Hame Abuin!
Prayer: At Brak o Day
Faither o us aa, bidin Abuin,--Tak thanks for Yer care o this hoose throu the hush o the nicht. Tak thanks for hame, for bed an happin. We lay doun weary an sair. Oor limbs haed duin hard wark an oor herts wis duilfu wi mony ills. But the mornin haes brocht us strength an hertnin. The brak o day finnds us weel an cheery. The tire an the trauchle--the wechts o life--haes slippit awa in the sleep Ye hae gien us. O sleep! it is a bonny boon, an richt gled ar we that ilka day haes its nicht for rest.
We ar puir folk; we'v juist a but an ben. We'v little gear an nae big place in the warld, but Yer guid things is gien ti puir an rich alike. Ye mak nae odds amang Yer folk. The licht an the air, rain an sunshine, the nicht wi its sleep, the bite an sup comes wi ilka day. Tak thanks again frae fou herts for aa Yer haunfus o guid.
We maun up an awa ti the wark. The day is begun, an ilkane haes his place ti stap intil. We kenna what is hod in the oors aheid. We kenna what we'v ti meet--what guid or ill. But Ye ken aathing, an see oor day as if it wis by. Haud close in, an spaek an lat us ken whan we'v ti be canny an watchfu. Airt oor feet the richt gate. Lat us say naething that wad hurt or vex ony. Lat us say naething that is fause or base. Mey oor neuk be better an blyther for oor smile. Mey the fowk that wirks bi oor side be happier because we ar there. Mak us content wi oor lot an thankfu for oor daily mercies. We wad toil on daein oor best--ae day at a time. We canna dae the morn's task the day. The morn will bring its ain cry. Lat us meet the oors as they come, an lippen aye ti Providence--lippen ti Him that rules wicely an canna bring wrang. Wi busy hauns lat oor herts be set on the Ane that lo'es us an tends us an hauds us siccar. Licht oor track wi the lamp o Truith, an mey the guid Spirit mak His hame in ilka breist.
We ar puir at spaek. Oor prayer is cauld an mauchless. Tak it wi guidwill an leuk past the timmer words, an read the deep langins an hopes an dumb cries o oor warld-weary sowel. Thoo God abuin, Thoo tender Faither, herk Ye ti the sabbin o Yer bairns, an show Yersel their freend an prove Yer micht. AMEN.