George MacDonald (1824–1905)
O Lord, at Joseph’s humble bench
Thy hands did handle saw and plane;
Thy hammer nails did drive and clench,
Avoiding knot and humouring grain.
That thou didst seem, thou wast indeed,
In sport thy tools thou didst not use;
Nor, helping hind’s or fisher’s need,
The labourer’s hire, too nice, refuse.
Lord, might I be but as a saw,
A plane, a chisel, in thy hand! —
No, Lord! I take it back in awe,
Such prayer for me is far too grand.
I pray, O Master, let me lie,
As on thy bench the favoured wood;
Thy saw, thy plane, thy chisel ply,
And work me into something good.
No, no; ambition, holy-high,
Urges for more than both to pray:
Come in, O gracious Force, I cry —
O workman, share my shed of clay.
Then I, at bench, or desk, or oar,
With knife or needle, voice or pen,
As thou in Nazareth of yore,
Shall do the Father’s will again.
Thus fashioning a workman rare,
O Master, this shall be thy fee:
Home to thy father thou shall bear
Another child made like to thee.