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