Listen, Lord: A Prayer
(A Prayer from God's Trombones)
O Lord, we come this morning Knee-bowed and body-bent Before Thy throne of grace. O Lord—this morning— Bow our hearts beneath our knees, And our knees in some lonesome valley. We come this morning— Like empty pitchers to a full fountain, With no merits of our own. O Lord—open up a window of heaven, And lean out far over the battlements of glory, And listen this morning. Lord, have mercy on proud and dying sinners— Sinners hanging over the mouth of hell, Who seem to love their distance well. Lord—ride by this morning— Mount Your milk-white horse, And ride-a this morning— And in Your ride, ride by old hell, Ride by the dingy gates of hell, And stop poor sinners in their headlong plunge. And now, O Lord, this man of God, Who breaks the bread of life this morning— Shadow him in the hollow of Thy hand, And keep him out of the gunshot of the devil. Take him, Lord—this morning— Wash him with hyssop inside and out, Hang him up and drain him dry of sin. Pin his ear to the wisdom-post, And make his words sledge hammers of truth— Beating on the iron heart of sin. Lord God, this morning— Put his eye to the telescope of eternity, And let him look upon the paper walls of time. Lord, turpentine his imagination, Put perpetual motion in his arms, Fill him full of the dynamite of Thy power, Anoint him all over with the oil of Thy salvation, And set his tongue on fire. And now, O Lord— When I've done drunk my last cup of sorrow— When I've been called everything but a child of God— When I'm done traveling up the rough side of the mountain— O—Mary's Baby— When I start down the steep and slippery steps of death— When this old world begins to rock beneath my feet— Lower me to my dusty grave in peace To wait for that great gittin'-up morning—Amen.
From God's Trombones by James Weldon Johnson. Copyright © 1927 The Viking Press, Inc., renewed 1955 by Grace Nail Johnson. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.
James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson, born in Florida in 1871, was a national organizer for the NAACP and an author of poetry and nonfiction. Perhaps best known for the song "Lift Every Voice and SIng," he also wrote several poetry collections and novels, often exploring racial identity and the African American folk tradition.
Date Published: 1927-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/listen-lord-prayer