The Stranger and His Friend

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The Stranger and His Friend
by James Montgomery
This Hymn is often known by its first line, "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief".

THE STRANGER AND HIS FRIEND

     "Ye have done it unto me." — Matt. xxv. 40.

A POOR wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often cross'd me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief,
That I could never answer "Nay:"
I had not power to ask his name,
Whither he went, or whence he came,
Yet was there something in his eye
That won my love, I knew not why.

Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He enter'd ;—not a word he spake;—
Just perishing for want of bread;
I gave him all; he bless'd it, brake,
And ate,—but gave me part again;
Mine was an Angel's portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
That crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him, where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone;
The heedless water mock'd his thirst,
He heard it, saw it hurrying on:
I ran to raise the sufferer up;
Thrice from the stream he drain'd my cup,
Dipt, and return'd it running o'er ;
I drank, and never thirsted more.

'T was night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof;
I heard his voice abroad, and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof;
I warm'd, I clothed, I cheer'd my guest,
Laid him on my own couch to rest;
Then made the hearth my bed, and seem'd
In Eden's garden while I dream'd.

Stript, wounded, beaten, nigh to death,
I found him by the highway-side:
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment; he was heal'd;
—I had myself a wound conceal'd;
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And Peace bound up my broken heart.

In prison I saw him next, condemn'd
To meet a traitor's doom at morn;
The tide of lying tongues I stemm'd,
And honor'd him 'midst shame and scorn:
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He ask'd if I for him would die;
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,
But the free spirit cried, "I will."

Then in a moment to my view
The Stranger darted from disguise;
The tokens in his hands I knew,
My Saviour stood before mine eyes:
He spake; and my poor name He named;
"Of me thou hast not been ashamed:
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me."


Scarborough, December, 1826.