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William Williams

He suffered sometimes from absent-mindedness, as the following tradition indicates. He was one day far away from home, holding a service beside the sea-shore. A friend bad taken the devotional portion of the service, when, as he drew near the close of his prayer, a cuckoo began to sing. Williams stood up to give out a hymn before preaching: it was an appeal to the cuckoo to fly away to Pantycelyn and tell 'Mally' his wife that he was alive; to proceed from thence to Builth and tell 'Jack' his son to 'keep his place'; concluding with the pious wish that should they fail to meet again on earth, they might meet in heaven. His friend touched him and hinted that the doctrine of salvation was rather scanty in his verse. 'Very true,' replied the poet at once; and, without any more ado, gave out another verse, which seems to carry in it everywhere the sound of the everlasting sea--the music of an infinite hope for man:

Salvation like a boundless sea

Keeps swelling on the shore;

Here shall the weak and helpless find

Enough for evermore.

37

Another instance of his ready wit was recently given by a South Wales correspondent.11'Cosmos' in The South Wales Daily News. It seems that he was at Aberdare one day preaching from the text--'The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few; pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest that He would send forth labourers into His harvest.' After the sermon he gave out a hymn in a metre which was not known to any of the masters of song present. Apprehending their difficulty, he immediately put them right again by giving out an extempore verse, of which the following is a translation

To-day are ye not saying--

'Four months will come and go,

And then with fruitful harvest

The fields will be aglow':

But saith the King of heaven--

'Lift up your eyes around!'

White are the fields already

Where His good wheat is found.

So much for tales of eccentric origins; which prove, besides, how lively a sympathy existed between the poet's mind and the varying phases of Nature. In further illustration of this, the following group of four hymns is given; showing successive reflections of a summer evening, a winter's night, a clear morning after a stormy night, and a calm sea after contrary winds.


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