D Gibb Mitchell
Fou fain wis A whan they sayed ti me, "Ti the hoose o the Lord lat us gang." Jerusalem! oor feet sall staun in-by yer ain yetts. Jerusalem is biggit weel--a bonny Burgh--staunin aa bi itslane. There the clans maun aa forgaither: God's kith an kin. His trysts is wi Israel; they lilt His praises wi a sang. It is there the thrones o the richt is set doun--thrones o Dauvid's line. Seek for the paece o Jerusalem; quait an siccar will yer weel-wishers be! Paece be aye on yer was, an paece in yer palaces sae braw. For ma brither's an ma neebor's sake, A maun cry: "Paece be wi ye."
For the hoose that is God's, A maun seek aa that is guid.--Ps. cxxii.
The Sabbath: God's Trystin Day
There's the souch o a Sabbath day in this sang. It is nane o Dauvid's lilts that the folk lo'ed ti sing as they stappit the road ti Zion. Solomon haed biggit them a braw howf ti forgaither in, whaur their Makar trystit wi them. They traivelt lang miles ti win there an aa nar-haun buid neebor them as they won throu the haly yetts--for aa wis fou fain ti be inby. Nane wad bide awa gin he could be there!
Leuk ower the roads that comes frae ilka airt an see the thrang! The auld man wi his staff, slaw an grave; the young loun, brisk an gay; the mither an the faither an the little anes bi their side--whiles ane, whiles a few, daunder thegither--aa makkin for the holy hoose. An their faces is bricht an bonny as ane says ti the tither, "We're gaun ti Zion." Hou winsome it maun hae been ti herken ti the choirs o kirkgangers cruinin the same words o hert joy!
Man haes sax days o toil. The wheels keeps spinnin, the hammers rattles, an the bellaes ridden the lowe. The plooman ca's throu his day's darg, the milkmaid fills the pail, the orraman delves his spadefus, an syne the warld's wark is duin, an halts for the day o rest. The week thuds wi noise. There's a comin an gaun, a hurry an bustle, a haunlin an a layin doun o tools. The oors maun hae their fou o wark, an there can be nae daffin nor aff-pittin, or the dole wad be scrimp.
The Sabbath mornin glimmers in wi a quaitness that says "wheesht" ti man an aa livin. The sun waukens the warld wi a command: "Rest this day, it belangs yer God. Ye'r weary an forfochen. Yer sowel is hungert an there's Ane wavin ye til Himsel!" There's a hush faas on aa! The looms an engines is like deid. The banks is still, an the clink o siller awa. The stools is empty, the beuks is clappit tae, pens is laid by. The shutters is up, an aa the gear ahint bides happit ower for the morn. God is giein man his chance ti ryce abuin the clods. Wi boued back an een dounwi, his thochts an his hert wis amang the stour. But upon the great lowsin day he staps awa frae the broun yirth an aa its marrae trash an plants himsel in his ben room, ti haud the day holy an laud his Makar!
The Almichty Himsel made the warld throu the sax says o a week, an syne the seevent he haltit an restit. He wis the first ti wirk an the first ti haud the Sabbath. As folk cam ti the yirth an fand they buid wirk gin they wad hae maet, they wis fell thankfu o a day ti lie doun, fell thankfu o a day for anither ploy; an throu the quaitness an the hush their thochts wun up! There haed been nae frichtenin command frae a unseen, darksome vyce--"Mind the Sabbath!" They haed nae need o thunner an lichtenin ti fleg them ti their knees. Na: the vyce o their Makar haed spoken laich, an the hert o man kent it wis but richt ti gie the seevent day ti his God. The hert o man kent it wis the laest he could dae ti lat oot his feelins--for he wis fain ti mak his respecks ti his Ruler!
But man couldna lang roose the Lord alane. There war few sowels in the first days o the warld, an ilk ane haed his neuk ti delve. Wha the Sabbath cam roond it wis guid ti forgaither, an in their rude weys o liltin they fand it hertier ti be mony raither than ane. Time gaed on an here an there a wee hame wis made. Bairns wis born, an the faither an mither lairnt them ti pray. The hame wis the Kirk: there wis nae ither, Mair years sped on an faimlies grew. There wis nae hoose big eneuch whaur they could tryst for worship. The sky wis their riggin an ony green sward wis theirs ti wale! It wis than men begoud ti cry on God. They wis agreed they should aa staun roond the same altar stane an laud their God wi fou vyces. Here wis the first Kirk, wi nae creeds, nae splits, nae man left oot--ae tongue, ae hert, ae sang!
Here staun we in the cradle day o the warld an leuk ower the lang span o time, an aa throu it is dottit wi the holy day an companies o folk stappin ti the Kirk! Ilka land haed its Sabbath an ilka tongue its psalms. The mirk quarters o the globe, wi aa their claivers, haed their day for lowsin. Their worship wis ti wid an stane; but they ne'er tint sicht o the Sabbath. This is pruif o the age o God's day, an the keepin o't, lang afore the Ten Wirds wis pitten upon stane. The first men ettled ti lout the knee bi ane anither, an hear their vyces rycin in a lood swall. This langin for company, for a tryst in a holy biggin, is a inborn siech that seeks throu the hert o man frae auld lang syne. It is a instinct plantit in man's breist, like a thocht o God that's been left ahint amang the wrack o sin.
Something ails a man that nods awa frae the lave, an wi a lanely vyce spaeks his devotions. There's a smirk o pride, a consaet o himsel, in the man that maun hae his ain neuk wi nae ither ti fash him! The folk ootby is ower black for him ti neebor wi. He jalouzes, aiblins, that his grand wirds canna be herkened til in the jabber o ither tongues! There's a oor for the ben prayer, an there's a oor for the brither's common worship. Ony excuise ti skirt the fellaeship will ding aff the guid he micht be gettin.
There's ither folk--a hantle o them--that bleeze awa aboot the wey o praisin God. Their Kirk is the bonny warld: the blue lift, the sunshine, the sailin cloods, the mountain hicht, the braeside, the green knowes, the wimplin burn, the flouers, the birds, the seashore, the rocks, an the spume o the brekkers. Natur is the waas o their biggin, an her creations dirls their sowel an fills them wi awe an wonder at the wisdom an glory o the great Creator!
There's a time for the sichts an soonds o the bonny warld; an there's a time for gaitherin at the poupit fit. It gratifies the Divine Ruler ti see His people delite themsels in his beauties. He garred the mornin lilt wi freshness an strength. He set the mairvels in the sky an tuined aa ti move in their order. Gin man can ryce an get a glint o the ferlies o life throu God's een--weel for him; an he haes a richt ti finnd joy in aa his Makar haes pitten roond him!
But there's something wins ahint this array o splendour. There's something seeps deeper than ootward flauchts o yirth or sky. Come inti the faulds that elbucks thegither. Lat the sun shine an the birdies warble; but, close yersel in wi God's ain an there bide. Sing wi them, pray wi them, pree the Wird, an wait on yer portion frae the preacher. That'll cleed yer sowel wi fine robes o love an purity. That'll busk ye braw wi faith an trust. That'll redd ye o yer guilty fears an lat the wastrel past be duin awa. For wark aheid ye'll aye be ready, an ye'll be a better cronie--mair leal an bigger haunit--a man that God can lippen ti!
It is guid ti be thirled wi the wonder-warks doun here; but ti wonder is no ti hae faith; ti leuk on fair flouers isna purity; ti admire paintit picturs isna haliness. At the Kirk a man gangs strauchter ti God, an gies Him his wird that he'll ser Him wi his best!
Oor forebears in Scotland wis men o mettle. They haed sair times ti warsle throu, an mony a heid wis taen ti stop the prayers an the psalms upo the hillsides! What for did they no bide at hame an dae the richt bi their ain fireside? Could they no hae bidden quait an gairdit their wives an bairns? What wis aa the sodgerin an the hackin an the butcherin for? Dinna spier: there's a holy hush upo that time! They wis the brave men o oor kintra that focht for oor richts, an grudgedna their bluid for their faith. They couldna pit by the King's order: sae they haed ti dee! They micht hae been slee an gien ae face ti their tyrant cuif, an anither ti God, whan nane wis by. They micht hae swappit maisters whan the dragoons cam clinkin up the glen: nane wad hae been the wicer. The fine men folk wad hae been luiten live. The land wad hae been singin wi gowden grain. The hames wad hae been couthie--the ingle-neuk wi nae dreid--the bairns weel cled an fed, wi nae frichtsome stare--the mithers, eident an bonny, wi their fit on the cradle, cruinin a sang!
Wae's me! that micht hae chanced, an the broun clods o oor land wadna hae been wat wi the bluidy gore o oor grandsires. Ay, but Scotland wad hae been fause, oor faithers rascal chiels, wi nae fealty ti God or man--waesome wafflin craturs--fit for the end they dree'd! The story o oor kith wad hae been fyled wi the blackest strokes! We wad haud oor tongue an be shamed ti lat the weans hear o't. Waur than aa--the hoose o God wad hae faan ti pieces, the roads growen green wi girse, the bell roostit aff--nae souch o Sabbath amang the muirs an glens! We moan for the duil an the pains o the brave Scottish men. But we'r prood o them aa; an we can hear their deein wirds as their bluid wis skaillin, eggin us on ti haud siccar ti God an kintra. Weel they lo'ed their Sabbath day an their trystin thegither in the Kirk!
Thae's bygane days. Oor Sabbath is deein; it's amaist a week day; it's slippin awa frae oor grip. It wis kent ance an cherished. The bell is aye tollin an the doors is unsteekit; but the folk gecks at it, an gangs ither gates. They maun see their freends an hae a crack. The buird mauna be spreed weel an meikle ti wale frae. The wheels rins past their door an wyles them furth for a gallop. By-lanes an squares haes their feck o folk for loiterin an loungin. Idle claivers an lowss words damns the air, like openins o hell! Dandy louns swaggers throu the day wi their pipe an their walkin stick! There's nae thocht o God. There's nae thocht o a Kirk, o a psalm, o a chaipter, nae worryin aboot sin an ill-daein! It's a aesy, canny, lat'z alane wey o life. They ar marrae ti the carles that gecked at Heeven's Son an lichtlied His wirds.
We little ken what we're tinin. We'll finnd the worth o oor blessins whan they'r gane. The warld will hae its fill o sin, an syne, tuim an despairin, will hunger an crave for what it flung awa in it's blinnd greed!
We maun cry them aa back. We maun tryst them ti the auld howf, set the best man in the poupit, an lat him spaek wi sic wooin tongue that their fit winna steer frae the place. Get the man that's been faur ben wi the Almichty, that comes oot wi his face glowin an his hert in a lowe--an he'll gar them leuk up an wonder. He'll gar them gie ower their stravaigin days an think wi shame what they micht hae been. He'll wyle them frae their thowless an snuivin gates an mak them men again, mak them fain ti push the best inti the lave o their days. The news o love frae him abuin comes ower them like a bonny story ti a bairn. It wis a auld sang, but they haed aye flung it awa. Their een will keek ayont the glaur o the warld an get a glint o Heeven! The blackest hert can be redd up an made richt!
The Christ-Man ance stappit inti the hoose for prayer. There wis a bangin o noise: siller clinkin, feet trampin, an folk thriepin ower their bargainins. He leukit roond: His een saw the Deevil's wark. He made a tawse o smaa cords an caad them aa oot--the sheep an the nowte baest; an tuimed oot the troker's siller, an cowpit their tables, an telt them that trokit wi dous: "Tak thae things awa; ye'll no mak Ma Faither's Hoose a hoose o traffic."
The moss o the warld's trokin baerds ower aathing--man's hert, the Beuk, the Kirk, the Sabbath itssel. It's no content ti bide amang the sax days, but it creeps inti the seevent. There's a vyce frae Heeven throu aa the din o life, an it says: A'v gien ye the sax days; gie Me Ma ain day. Ye maun toil, but ye'r mair than yer wark. The week fyles ye, an the bark o yirthly things growes ower yer sowel. Ma day shuils aff the bark an brings ye ti Me. Ye'v eneuch time for earnin yer breid an hoardin yer gear. Think ye ae day is ower lang for thochts o Me? It's suin by--like the wabster's shuttle--it flashes for a blink throu the wirkin days, an gin ye steal it for yersel, the Sabbaths'll no come back again! Ye'v ti choose yersel what ye mak o Ma day. Ye ken what's richt. Ye ken what pleases Me, an what's for yer weel for eternity!"
Staun an leuk back on the life road ye'v traivelt. What glints o licht haes the Sabbath cuisten alang the path? Or, aiblins, wis it mirk an shaidaes ye fand? What can ye tell o the day? Wis the day fou o joy an hertnin? Or wis it ower lang--a dreich an dreary day? A wheen haes this story--that they lo'ed it weel. They haed muckle ti thole, their load wis wechty. They haed thrawn fowk ti dael wi; they haed sair times; an the Sabbath lowsed them frae thirldom. It wis a day whan the wechts fell aff an their hert rase ti sing.
A wheen mair haes as happy a memory. The day wis their gowden chain, an ilka link wis cherished. It wis the Lord's day whan the licht broke upo them, whan man's Saviour wis revealt, an they teuk Him for their ain. Ilka Sabbath gied them time ti get a fresh blink o the Brawest o Men. Sae wis it the gowden chain poued them on throu the ruch bits, an wiesed their feet forrit ti the hiegher roads!
A feck o ithers tells hou blythe they wis the first Sabbath they wun back ti their Kirk. Lang haed their body been wrackit wi pain. Waukrife, their nichts wis eerie an lang, their pillae wat wi tears. A glisk o the dank air frae the deid mirk dale crap ower them! But the sparin Haun o God airtit them saftly roond an they rase for anither spell o life. The lown Sabbath wis a hert-fillin day, They fittit the road they kent sae weel. They daundered throu the wid bi the rinnin burn. They crossed the wee brig an speeled the braeside whaur the yallae spinks wis mony. Nae wonder that their hert lowpit wi thankfuness an joy. The open yett wis like Heeven caain them ben ti reeze their Healer an their Health hauder. They sat in the auld pew, an memory brocht their blessins ti mind!
There wis a fou cup upo the Sacrament day whan ane an aa forgaithered. They cam frae faur an near--the herd frae his lanely shielin, the crafter, the plooman, the laird, the fisher-folk; an aa that could win wis there. Ae flock wis in the Kirk, anither haed a green knowe. It wis a solemn nicht. Faces wis grave. Nane luit faa an idle wird. The guid man o God spak wirds frae heevin, an the folk saw their SAviour's bluid flowin for them. The elders raxed roond the breid an the wine, an the worshippers wis airt an pairt in Christ's Body. Whan it wis ower, the hoose skailed an aa gaed their ain road ti hame an haa. There wis a spring in their step--loads haed been liftit, an herts lichtened, an the raiveltness o things evened oot!
The Sabbath! Whaur's the man that wad niffer it for Setterday? Wha wad shove his God oot an haud it for his ain diversions? The Sabbath! the day whan man can be at his best, whan his haun haes a safter touch, whan his ee leuks up wi hope, an his hert brims ower wi guidwill. The sabbath! the day that stops aabody an spiers: "Ken ye what's yer weird? What here for? Whaur boond?" There's nane that can live wi nae Sabbath. The day is for ane an aa; it's no ti be mislippened bi nane!
It's a day for restin, for thinkin in aernest, for blythesomeness, for the hame waas ti soond wi love, for the kirk waas ti rink roond the hale community. It's no a day for surly brous an thrawn faces, for clashin an thriepin ower smaa jots an tittles. It's no a day o langsome, dreich oors. It's the brichtest day o aa, a day for kindliness an britherly love!
The hoose o God gaithers aa its bairns thegither. It walesna the guid, nor bars oot the bad. It caas in aa; the totterin an the weans, the staawart an the waeklin, the weel-aff an the puir. It gies a haun ti the sair-trauchled an a new sang ti the pithless. It hushes the sabs o the strucken lass, an dichts the tears o them that hae happit their deid. The greetin ill-daer slinks an finnds that he's wantit, that there's guid tidins for him. The God-fearin saunt louts at his side. Their prayer gangs up ti the ae Hearer. God's hoose bids them welcome. Ilk ane haes misdaeins eneuch ti lay bare an repent o. There's a sowtherin for aa an a happin up o byganes! God's hert haes room, an there's nane but will finnd that true!
A anterin saet here an there haes tint it's hauder. Year in year oot it never haes him. Belike he's cauld in the grip o the warld, or aiblins doun in the gutter. It is saddenin ti see the gaps. The folk that's there misses them, for the blanks means a brither, a faither, a dochter forwandert. The tears faas, but isna seen!
There's vaucant saets that minds us o the weel-lo'ed faur ower the seas. Ay, an there's aye some that'll ne'er be filled again. Some wis taen in their bloom, or they'v serred their time an wun their rest. The kirk disna haud a unbroken band!
The hoose for the hinmaist hame-gaitherin is Heeven. Its doors is hauf unsteekit as ane bi ane gangs throu. The licht sklents doun an maks us fain ti be in. It's there God will tryst His leal folk. Fareweels will be ower, an the bluid-bocht mortals frae ilka airt will meet aroond Heeven's ingleneuk an greet their Saviour-God. Duil is duin wi, an there'll be gled herts for aye!
O God, mey the Sabbath aye be a joy ti us. Mey it finnd a shrine in oor herts. Lat naething chainge it inti a common day. Lat us grip its richts an its blessins wi a siccar haun. Mey it mark the times whan God's love-licht fills oor sowels, an gars us stap frae His day ti wark days wi a strang brave hert.
O God, Abuin,--Be kind ti Scotia; dinna forsake oor land. We'v kent Ye lang an feared Yer name. In the rush o new-fangled things, keep us faithfu an steedy. Lat the honour o Yer great name be abuin aa. Lat nane be traitors ti their kirk, their kintra, or their God. Mey we staun thegither, shouther ti shouther, an battle for the richt. Lat us strike wi hard blaws at injuistice an wrang. Mak us keen ti ding aff the curses o oor dear hameland, an lat guidness be the main force in the lives o men.
Mey a blessin faa on the King that rules this folk. Mak free wi yer favour for him, an gie him o Yer wisdom. Add mony an fou years ti his life, an croun his reign wi paece. Bide in his hame an bless his bairns. Lat faa saft wirds o comfort in the ear o oor Queen-mither: lat her ken, that tho left her lee-lane, her folk lo'e her e'en mair for the duil that haes come.
Win in ti the herts o them that maks laws, that juidges folk, that writes beuks. Win in ti the herts o men an weemen lippened wi pouer. Gie them Yer ain thochts an lovin weys, an they'll dae weel ti baith God an man. Be wi Yer ain message-men that raxes the Guid-news ower the warld. Haste Ye the day whan aa will see the Cross that stauns sae hiegh on Calvary's hill. We cry for a on-ding o heeven's rains o blessin for aa mankind--for the lands o kirks, an the lands that haes nane.
We'v ae cry yet, an O! it is wrung for them we lo'e. Mony is sayin fareweel ti their native land. Gang wi them as they cross the sea ti faur-awa pairts. Hap them wi the plaid o Yer love. Bless their hames as they big up their firesides in ither climes. AMEN.