A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.@1 Kings 19:11–12
portrait
John G. Whittier
(1807–1892)

John G. Whit­tier, in the At­lan­tic Monthly, April 1872. These words are from a long nar­ra­tive poem, The Brew­ing of So­ma. It de­scribes Ve­dic priests go­ing in­to the for­est and drink­ing them­selves in­to a stu­por with a con­coc­tion called so­ma. They try to have a re­li­gious ex­per­i­ence and con­tact the spir­it world. It is af­ter set­ting that scene that Whit­tier draws his le­sson: Dear Lord, and Fa­ther of man­kind, for­give our fool­ish ways…

The hymn was sung in the 2007 mo­vie Atone­ment, which won an Acad­emy Award for best score. The hymn is as rel­e­vant to­day as when it was wri­tten. In a mo­dern con­text, it speaks to the drug cul­ture, and those look­ing for an ex­per­i­ence to prove the re­al­i­ty of God.

Rest (Mak­er) Fred­er­ick C. Mak­er, 1887 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.