Scripture Verse

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Introduction

portrait
Henry B. Richards
(1817–1885)
© National Portrait Gallery

Words: Tul­li­us C. O’Kane, Dew Drops of Sac­red Song (New York, Cin­cin­na­ti, Chicago & St. Louis: Phi­lip Phil­lips and Hitch­cock & Wal­den, 1870), num­ber 94.

Music: Em­me­lar Hen­ry B. Ri­chards (1817–1885) (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tune:

portrait
Tullius C. O’Kane
(1830–1912)

Background

What our mo­thers sang to us when they put us to sleep is sing­ing yet. We may have for­got­ten the words; but they went in­to the fi­ber of our soul, and will for­ev­er be a part of it. It is not so much what you for­mal­ly teach your child­ren as what you sing to them. A hymn has wings and can fly eve­ry-whither.

One hundred and fifty years af­ter you are dead, and Old Mor­tal­i­ty has worn out his chis­el in re-cut­ting your name on the tomb­stone, your great-grand­child­ren will be sing­ing the song which this after­noon you sing to your lit­tle ones ga­thered about your knee.

There is a place in Swit­zer­land where, if you dis­tinct­ly ut­ter your voice, there come back ten or fif­teen echoes, and ev­ery Chris­tian song sung by a mo­ther in the ear of her child shall have ten thou­sand ech­oes com­ing back from all the gates of hea­ven. Oh, if mo­thers on­ly knew the pow­er of this sac­red spell, how much oft­en­er the lit­tle ones would be ga­thered, and all our homes would chime with the songs of Je­sus!

Sankey, pp. 330–31

Lyrics

As I wandered ’round the homestead,
Many a dear familiar spot
Brought within my recollection
Scenes I’d seemingly forgot;
There, the orchard—meadow, yonder—
Here the deep, old fashioned well,
With its old moss covered bucket,
Sent a thrill no tongue can tell.

Tho’ the house was held by strangers
All remained the same within;
Just as when a child I rambled
Up and down, and out and in;
To the garret dark ascending—
Once a source of childish dread—
Peering thro’ the misty cobwebs,
Lo! I saw my trundle bed.

Quick I drew it from the rubbish,
Covered o’er with dust so long:
When, behold, I heard in fancy
Strains of one familiar song.
Often sung by my dear mother
To me in that trundle bed,
Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber,
Holy angels guard thy bed!

While I listen to the music
Stealing on in gentle strain,
I am carried back to childhood—
I am now a child again;
’Tis the hour of my retiring,
At the dusky eventide;
Near my trundle bed I’m kneeling,
As of yore, by mother’s side.

Hands are on my head so loving,
As they were in childhood’s days;
I, with weary tones, am trying
To repeat the words she says;
’Tis a prayer in language simple
As a mother’s lips can frame:
Father, Thou who art in Heaven,
Hallowed, ever, be Thy name.

Prayer is over: to my pillow
With a good night! kiss I creep,
Scarcely waking while I whisper,
Now I lay me down to sleep.
Then my mother, o’er me bending,
Prays in earnest words, but mild:
Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father,
Bless, oh, bless, my precious child!

Yet I am but only dreaming:
Ne’er I’ll be a child again;
Many years has that dear mother
In the quiet churchyard lain;
But the memory of her counsels
O’er my path a light has shed,
Daily calling me to Heaven,
Even from my trundle bed.