Comfort in Extremity—Christopher Harvey

Library of John Adams & John Quincy Adams

I am reading through The Oxford Book of Christian Verse. Over the years, I have enjoyed a number of Christian poets from Ben Jonson to Mary Karr. This volume contains favorite poets like John Donne and George Herbert, plus many others I’ve not read.

This past week I read a poem by Christopher Harvey, a poet I’m not familiar with. The poem is “Comfort in Extremity” (posted below). The poem imagines a conversation between the writer and the Lord. In the first set of lines, the poet expresses his desire for the Lord to be near him. In the second set of verses, the Lord talks with the poet about how sufficient and present Christ is. The third set of lines go back and forth between the poet and the Lord; the poet shares his last reservations, and the Lord, again, reassures him. Throughout the poem, the Lord’s words are set in quotes. I pray you’ll be nourished (as I was) by the stable grace of God expressed in this poem.

Comfort in Extremity

Alas! my LORD is going,
                              Oh my woe!
It will be mine undoing;
                              If He go,
I’ll run and overtake Him;
                              If He stay,
I’ll cry aloud, and make Him
                              Look this way.
      O stay, my LORD, my Love, ‘tis I;
      Comfort me quickly, or I die.

‘Cheer up thy drooping spirits;
                                I am here.
Mine all-sufficient merits
                                Shall appear
Before the throne of glory
                                 In thy stead:
I’ll put into thy story
                                 What I did.
        Lift up thine eyes, sad soul, and see
        Thy Saviour here.  Lo, I am He.’

Alas! shall I present
                                   My sinfulness
To Thee?  Thou wilt resent
                                   The loathsomeness.
‘Be not afraid, I’ll take
                                   Thy sins on Me,
And all My favour make
                                    To shine on thee.’
          LORD, what Thou’lt have me, Thou must make me.
          ‘As I have made thee now, I take thee.’

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