A simple thing of knotted pine And corrugated tin; But still, to those who read, a sign, A fortress on the farthest line Against the march of sin.
Though rich man’s gold was lacking quite, We built it strong and sure, With willing hands and (Faith’s delight) The savings spared, the widow’s mite, The shillings of the poor.
Nor could it fail to meet the eye And reverent thoughts instil, As there above the township high, And pointing always to the sky, It stood upon the hill.
And through our lives in wondrous ways Its holy purpose led From limpid lisping cradle-days To where the silent moonlight lays White hands upon the dead.
For when the Holy Morning strung Its beads upon the grass, You’d see us driving—old and young— The tall white graceful trees among. On every road to Mass.
It brought the brave young mother there, Surrounded by her brood, To wrap their tiny hearts in prayer, And teach them how to cast their care Upon the Holy Rood.
It watched the little bush girl grow, And kept her life from harm, Till, spotless as the virgin snow In wreath and veil, it saw her go Upon her husband’s arm.
It blessed strong, trembling shoulders bent: Helped many a soul in thrall To climb again the steep ascent, And reft the grim entanglement That brought about the fall.
It soothed the gray old mother’s pain, A-swaying while she told Her rosary o’er and o’er again For griefs that rent her heart in twain— So new, and ah, so old!
(There’s “that poor boy who went astray,” And lined her gentle brow; There’s “them that’s wand’rin’ fur away,” And “them that’s in their grave to-day” And beck’nin’” to her now.)
Refuge it gave the weary heart, Beyond the sordid din And conflict of the crowded mart, One sweet, sequestered nook apart, Where all might enter in.
Though high and grand cathedrals shine, To my mind grander still Is that wee church of knotted pine, That rampart on the outer line That stood upon the hill.