Daniel Gray

IF I shall ever win the home in heaven
For whose sweet rest I humbly hope and pray,
In the great company of the forgiven
I shall be sure to find old Daniel Gray.

I knew him well; in fact, few knew him better:
For my young eyes oft read for him the Word,
And saw how meekly from the crystal letter
He drank the life of his beloved Lord.

Old Daniel Gray was not a man who lifted
On ready words his freight of gratitude,
And was not called upon among the gifted,
In the prayer-meetings of his neighborhood.

He had a few old-fashioned words and phrases,
Linked in with sacred texts and Sunday rhymes;
And I suppose, that, in his prayers and graces,
I've heard them all at least a thousand times.

I see him now,—his form, and face, and motions,
His homespun habit, and his silver hair,—
And hear the language of his trite devotions
Rising behind the straight-backed kitchen-chair.

I can remember how the sentence sounded,—
“Help us, O Lord, to pray, and not to faint!”
And how the “conquering-and-to-conquer” rounded
The loftier aspirations of the saint.

He had some notions that did not improve him:
He never kissed his children,—so they say;
And finest scenes and fairest flowers would move him
Less than a horseshoe picked up in the way.

He could see nought but vanity in beauty,
And nought but weakness in a fond caress,
And pitied men whose views of Christian duty
Allowed indulgence in such foolishness.

Yet there were love and tenderness within him;
And I am told, that, when his Charley died,
Nor Nature's need nor gentle words could win him
From his fond vigils at the sleeper’s side.

And when they came to bury little Charley,
They found fresh dew-drops sprinkled in his hair,
And on his breast a rose-bud, gathered early,—
And guessed, but did not know, who placed it there.

My good old friend was very hard on fashion,
And held its votaries in lofty scorn,
And often burst into a holy passion
While the gay crowds went by on Sunday morn.

Yet he was vain, old Gray, and did not know it!
He wore his hair unparted, long, and plain,
To hide the handsome brow that slept below it,
For fear the world would think that he was vain!

He had a hearty hatred of oppression,
And righteous words for sin of every kind;
Alas, that the transgressor and transgression
Were linked so closely in his honest mind !

Yet that sweet tale of gift without repentance,
Told of the Master, touched him to the core,
And tearless he could never read the sentence:
“Neither do I condemn thee: sin no more.”

Honest and faithful, constant in his calling,
Strictly attendant on the means of grace,
Instant in prayer, and fearful most of falling,
Old Daniel Gray was always in his place.

A practical old man, and yet a dreamer,
He thought that in some strange, unlooked-for way,
His mighty Friend in heaven, the great Redeemer,
Would honor him with wealth some golden day.

This dream he carried in a hopeful spirit
Until in death his patient eye grew dim,
And his Redeemer called him to inherit
The heaven of wealth long garnered up for him.

So, if I ever win the home in heaven
For whose sweet rest I humbly hope and pray
In the great company of the forgiven
I shall be sure to find old Daniel Gray.