"If the King Were Coming"
WORSHIP QUOTE comes under the Advent heading "Let every heart prepare Him
room." To understand the poem, you must imagine yourself in a country that
has a monarch.
IF THE KING WERE COMING
Yet if His Majesty, our sovereign lord,
Should of his own accord,
Friendly himself invite,
And say, "I'll be your guest tomorrow night,"
How should we stir ourselves, call and command
All hands to work! "Let no man idle stand!
"Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall,
See they be fitted all;
Let there be room to eat
And order taken that there want no meat.
See every sconce and candlestick made bright,
That without tapers they may give a light.
"Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,
The dazie o'er the head,
The cushions in the chairs,
And all the candles lighted on the stairs?
Perfume the chambers, and in any case
Let each man give attendance in his place."
Thus, if the king were coming, would we do;
And 'twere good reason too;
For 'tis a duteous thing
To show all honour to an earthly king,
And after all our travail and our cost,
So he be pleased, to think no labour lost.
But at the coming of the King of Heaven
All's set at six and seven;
We wallow in our sin.
Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
We entertain Him always like a stranger,
And, as at first, still lodge Him in the manger.
- Anonymous, from Christ Church manuscript (early 17th century), from A
TREASURY OF CHRISTIAN VERSE, selected and edited by Hugh Martin, SCM Press
Ltd., 1959. (Other collections list the title as "Preparations" and date the
poem from the 16th century.)
[Does anyone know what is meant by "All's set at six and seven"? Perhaps it
speaks to our tendency to see Christ's coming as routine. "No big deal! We
can squeeze in one more guest. We have Christmas on the calendar." Not
exactly "Bah! Humbug," rather, "Ho Hum."]
Have a great week,
Pastor of Worship and Music
Chapel Hill Bible Church
Chapel Hill, North Carolina