A sweet friend of mine recently gave me a copy of a late 1800′s version of Alone with Jesus: Gleanings for closet reading by J. C. Lanphier. She found it at an estate sale and thought it was cool because the title and theme of the book was based on the text of scripture that I was preaching my first sermon series from. She had no idea that I would be very familiar with J.C. Lanphier — the founder of the historic Fulton Street Prayer Meeting in New York City that broke out in revival in 1857.
The book is filled with rich readings, devotions and poems that invite the reader to gaze upon the glory of God. Here is the poem that the book is named after — Alone with Jesus – from Matthew 6:6.
Alone with God! the universe shut out,
Earth, sense, and time, excluded and forgot;
All memories vanished of the parted past,
All prospects of the future overborne
And swallowed up in that one might sense,
That all-engrossing consciousness of God!
Alone with God! all earth-born love absorbed,
All earthly ties dissolved — all thoughts of those
Long held most dear, Elisha-like, who clung
Around the parting soul to Tabor’s brink,
For a brief space (brief to eternity),
Lost in that all-pervading thought of God!
Alone with God! angelic hosts around
“In burning row,” attending, but unseen,
Angelic harps unheard, though far and high,
The sounding cadence of their anthem rolls;
The sea of crystal, and the streets of gold –
The wall of jasper, and the gates of pearl,
Unnoticed all, replendent though they be,
The throne, and Him who sits thereon, beheld,
Naught else besides, in solitude sublime!
And does thou shrink, my spirit from the sight
Of uncreated majesty, and quail
To meet the Eternal, naked and alone?
Alone with God! I shrink not — He is great –
His awful glory, when unveiled, might well
Consume the spirits He hath made; but still
I shrink not. He is holy, too and just,
And very terrible: He dwels in light
That no man can approach, no mortal eye
Can look upon and live; but there is One
Beside Him whom I dare to meet alone –
Whom I have met alone at midnight hour,
In dark Gethsemane’s sequestered shades,
Alone, though trembling friends and armed foes
Peopling the solitude, were round us there;
Whom I have met alone on Calvary’s hill,
Though taunting crowds and dying men were there
Whom I have met alone on Tabor’s mount,
Unmindful of the little band that there
Held heavenly converse, sacredly amazed.
Alone with Jesus! no, I cannot shrink
From that blest fellowship, unbroken, deep,
And soul-absorbing in the spirit land,
So oft intruded on in this dark world,
By mortal joys and sorrows that would rob my soul of that communion, pure and high.
Alone with Jesus! on the Savior’s breast
Fondly to lean, and think on none but him;
How oft my spirit feels lost in the crowd
Of fellow worshippers below, above,
And longs, like his small band on earth, to be
“Led out into a desert place alone,”
To hear his voice, and share his love, as though
That voice and heart of love were only mine.
Alone with God! in that blest solitude,
Could earth be wanting with its fleeting joys,
Or even its most abiding; and most pure
To fill the measure of a finite soul!
In that august communion could the loss
Of mortal converse shade the holy light,
Or mar the sacred joy which, as a tide,
A swelling tide of ecstacy, rolls in
Upon the spirit conscious but of God.