A CHURCH AND THE WORLD  
BACK TO POEM LIST 
 
THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD WALKED FAR APART ON THE CHANGING SHORE OF TIME; 
THE WORLD WAS SINGING A GIDDY SONG, AND THE CHURCH A HYMN SUBLIME. 
 
“COME GIVE ME YOUR HAND,” CRIED THE MERRY WORLD, “AND WALK WITH ME THIS WAY,”        
BUT THE GOOD CHURCH HID HER SNOWY HAND, AND SOLEMNLY ANSWERED, “NAY, 
 
“I WILL NOT GIVE THEE MY HAND AT ALL, AND I WILL NOT WALK WITH YOU;                           
YOUR WAY IS THE WAY OF ETERNAL DEATH, AND YOUR WORDS ARE ALL UNTRUE.” 
 
“NAY, WALK WITH ME BUT A LITTLE SPACE,” SAID THE WORLD WITH A KINDLY AIR;           
“THE ROAD I WALK IS A PLEASANT ROAD, AND THE SUN SHINES ALWAYS THERE;" 
 
“YOUR WAY IS NARROW AND THORNY AND ROUGH WHILE MINE IS FLOWERY AND SMOOTH:  
YOUR LOT IS SAD WITH REPROACH AND TOIL, BUT IN CIRCLES OF JOY, I MOVE”  
 
“MY WAY, YOU CAN SEE, IS A BROAD, FAIR ONE, AND MY GATE IS HIGH AND WIDE;  
THERE IS ROOM ENOUGH FOR YOU AND FOR ME, TO TRAVEL SIDE BY SIDE.” 
 
HALF SHYLY, THE CHURCH APPROACHED THE WORLD, AND GAVE HIM HER HAND OF SNOW;  
AND THE FALSE WORLD GRASPED IT AND WALKED ALONG, SAYING IN ACCENTS LOW: 
 
“YOUR DRESS IS TOO SIMPLE TO PLEASE MY TASTE, I HAVE GOLD AND PEARLS TO WEAR; 
RICH VELVETS AND SILKS FOR YOUR GRACEFUL FORM AND DIAMONDS TO DECK YOUR HAIR.” 
 
THE CHURCH LOOKED DOWN ON HER PLAIN WHITE ROBES, AND THEN AT THE DAZZLING WORLD, 
AND BLUSHED AS SHE SAW HIS HANDSOME LIP WITH A SMILE CONTEMPTUOUS, CURLED 
 
“I WILL CHANGE MY DRESS FOR A COSTLIER ONE,” SAID THE CHURCH WITH A SMILE OF GRACE:              
THEN HER PURE WHITE GARMENTS DRIFTED AWAY, AND THE WORLD GAVE IN THEIR PLACE 
 
SATINS AND SILKS AND SEALSKINS RARE AND ROSES AND GEMS AND PEARLS; 
AND OVER HER FOREHEAD FELL HER BRIGHT HAIR; CRISPED IN A THOUSAND CURLS. 
 
“YOUR HOUSE IS TOO PLAIN,” SAID THE PROUD OLD WORLD, “I’LL BUILD YOU ONE LIKE MINE, 
WITH KITCHENS FOR FEASTING AND PARLOR FOR PLAY, AND FURNITURE NEVER SO FINE. 
 
SO HE BUILT HER A COSTLY AND BEAUTIFUL HOUSE-- SPLENDID IT WAS TO BEHOLD; 
HER SONS AND HER DAUGHTERS MET FREQUENTLY THERE, SHINING IN PURPLE AND GOLD.  
 
AND FAIR AND FESTIVAL--FROLICS UNTOLD,WERE HELD IN THE PLACE OF PRAYER.  
AND MAIDENS, BEWITCHING AS SIRENS OF OLD, WITH WORLDLY GRACES RARE, 
 
INVENTED THE VERY CUNNTNGEST TRICKS UNTRAMMELED BY GOSPEL OR LAWS, 
TO BEGUILE AND AMUSE AND WIN FROM THE WORLD SOME HELP FOR THE “RIGHTEOUS CAUSE.” 
 
AN ANGEL OF MERCY FLEW OVER THE CHURCH, AND WHISPERED, “I KNOW THY SIN,” 
THEN THE CHURCH LOOKED SAD AND ANXIOUSLY LONGED TO GATHER THE CHILDREN IN; 
 
BUT SOME WERE OFF AT THE MIDNIGHT BALL, AND SOME AT THE EUCHRE OR PLAY; 
AND SOME WERE DRINKING IN GAY SALOONS, AS SHE QUIETLY WENT HER WAY. 
 
THEN THE SLY WORLD GALLANTLY SAID TO HER, “YOUR CHILDREN MEAN NO HARM, 
MERELY INDULGING IN INNOCENT SPORTS”; SO SHE LEANED ON HIS PROFFERED ARM, 
 
AND SMILED AND CHATTED AND GATHERED FLOWERS, AS SHE WALKED ALONG WITH THE WORLD; 
WHILE MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF PRECIOUS SOULS TO THE HORRIBLE PIT WERE HURLED! 
 
“YOUR PREACHERS ARE ALL TOO OLD AND PLAIN,” SAID THE GAY WORLD WITH A SNEER; 
“THEY FRIGHTEN MY CHILDREN WITH DREADFUL TALES, WHICH I DO NOT LIKE THEM TO HEAR. 
 
“THEY TALK OF JUDGMENT, A COMING LORD, AND HORRORS OF ENDLESS NIGHT; 
THEY WARN OF A PLACE THAT SHOULD NOT BE MENTIONED TO EARS POLITE! 
 
“I WILL SEND YOU SOME OF A BETTER STAMP, MODERN AND BRILLIANT AND FAST; 
WHO WILL SHOW HOW MEN MAY LIVE AS THEY LIST AND GO TO HEAVEN AT LAST. 
 
“THE FATHER IS MERCIFUL, GREAT AND GOOD, LOVING AND TENDER AND KIND;  
DO YOU THINK HE WOULD TAKE ONE CHILD TO HEAVEN AND LEAVE ANOTHER BEHIND? 
 
“GO TRAIN YOUR TEACHERS UP TO THE TIMES, ADOPT THE STYLISH WAY;                          
WE ALL WANT ENTERTAINMENT FINE, AND ONLY THAT WILL PAY.” 
 
SO SHE CALLED FOR PLEASING AND GAY DIVINES, GIFTED AND GREAT AND LEARNED,  
AND THE PLAIN OLD MEN THAT PREACHED THE CROSS WERE OUT OF THEIR PULPITS TURNED. 
 
THEN MAMMON CAME AND SUPPORTED THE CHURCH RENTING A PROMINENT PEW; 
AND PREACHING AND SINGING AND FLORAL DISPLAY, PROCLAIMED A PERIOD NEW 
 
“YOU GIVE TOO MUCH TO THE POOR,” SAID THE WORLD, “FAR MORE THAN YOU OUGHT TO DO;  
THOUGH THE POOR NEED SHELTER, FOOD AND CLOTHES, WHY NEED IT BOTHER YOU?” 
 
“AND AFAR TO THE HEATHEN IN FOREIGN LANDS YOUR THOUGHTS NEED NEVER ROAM; 
THE FATHER OF MERCIES WILL CARE FOR THEM, LET CHARITY BEGIN AT HOME.” 
 
“GO TAKE YOUR MONEY AND BUY RICH ROBES, AND HORSES AND CARRIAGES FINE;  
AND PEARLS AND JEWELS AND DAINTY FOOD, AND THE RAREST AND COSTLIEST WINE.” 
 
“MY CHILDREN THEY DOTE ON ALL SUCH THINGS, AND IF YOU THEIR LOVE WOULD WIN,  
YOU MUST DO AS THEY DO AND WALK IN THE WAYS THAT THEY ARE WALKING IN.” 
 
THEN THE CHURCH HER PURSE-STRINGS TIGHTLY HELD, AND GRACEFULLY LOWERED HER HEAD,  
AND SIMPERED, “I’VE GIVEN TOO MUCH AWAY, I WELL DO SO, SIR AS YOU SAID.” 
 
SO THE POOR WERE TURNED FROM HER DOOR IN SCORN, AND SHE HEARD NOT THE ORPHANS’ CRY,  
AND SHE DREW HER BEAUTIFUL ROBES ASIDE AS THE WIDOWS WENT WEEPENG BY. 
 
HER MISSION TREASURIES BEGGARLY PLED, AND JESUS’ COMMANDS WERE IN VAIN;  
WHILE HALF OF THE MILLIONS FOR WHOM HE DIED HAD NEVER HEARD HIS NAME. 
 
AND THEY OF THE CHURCH AND THEY OF THE WORLD, WALKED CLOSELY HAND AND HEART  
AND NONE BUT THE MASTER WHO KNOWETH ALL, COULD TELL THE TWO APART. 
 
THEN THE CHURCH SAT DOWN AT HER EASE AND SAID, “I AM RICH AND IN GOODS INCREASED;  
I HAVE NEED OF NOTHING AND NAUGHT TO DO, BUT TO LAUGH AND DANCE AND FEAST.” 
 
AND THE SLY WORLD HEARD HER AND LAUGHED WITHIN AND MOCKINGLY SAID ASIDE,  
“THE CHURCH HAS FALLEN, THE BEAUTIFUL CHURCH, AND HER SHAME IS HER BOAST AND PRIDE. 
 
THUS HER WITNESSING POWER, ALAS! WAS LOST, AND THE PERILOUS TIMES CAME IN;  
THE TIMES OF THE END, SO OFTEN FORETOLD, OF FORM AND PLEASURE AND SIN. 
 
THEN THE ANGEL DREW NEAR THE MERCY SEAT, AND WHISPERED IN SIGHS HER NAME;  
AND THE SAINTS THEIR ANTHEMS OF RAPTURE HUSHED AND COVERED THEIR HEADS WITH SHAME. 
 
AND A VOICE CAME DOWN FROM THE HUSH OF HEAVEN, FROM HIM THAT SAT ON THE THRONE;  
“I KNOW THY WORKS AND WHAT THOU HAST SAID, AND HOW THOU HAST NOT KNOWN” 
 
“THAT THOU ART POOR, AND NAKED AND BLIND, WITH PRIDE AND RUIN ENTHRALLED,  
THE EXPECTANT BRIDE OF A HEAVENLY GROOM NOW THE HARLOT OF THE WORLD!  
 
“THOU HAST CEASED TO WATCH FOR THAT BLESSED HOPE, AND HAST FALLEN FROM ZEAL AND GRACE;  
SO NOW, ALAS! I MUST CAST THEE OUT, AND BLOT THY NAME FROM ITS PLACE.” 
 
-AUTHOR UNKNOWN 
 
BACK TO POEM LIST