O God, Wilt Thou Help Me In School?

A poem by Edward Smyth Jones

I then acted as agent for the "Zion Record," published by Rev. R. A. Adams, 39 St. Catherine Street, Natchez, Miss., until August 20, 1902. Knowing that there was a dormitory to be built for girls at Alcorn, I went there, hoping to get work and to be there when school opened. On arriving, I failed to get employment. I had no money. The Boarding Hall was run by boys who stayed over summer. Finding I was unemployed, they refused to let me take meals with them. There I was - friendless and penniless - without a bite of bread and nowhere to lay my head. To drive the wolf of starvation away and to keep from being devoured, I made arrangements with President Lanier to cut wood for something to eat, until school opened Sept. 2, 1902.

When school opened, the Faculty met the first day and distributed the positions to the eligibles. On going down to the Hall to take my first meal, to my surprise I found I had been awarded the position of waiter. To hold a position, or even remain on the Campus, one must matriculate within three days after school starts, if there when it opens, or after he arrives, if not. I then wrote home for the matriculation fee ($13), as I had labored there all summer. As that letter was sealed my destiny was sealed in it. It was one that hauled my anchor of hope; yes, one to bring glad tidings of great joy and crowning success, or the gloom of disastrous failure. Thus, having my hope sealed, I wrote across it "In Haste!"

The night of its return was a dark, rainy one. As all sat discussing different events that had transpired since the new session had begun, suddenly a whistle was heard. How our hearts throbbed with gladness as we exclaimed, "There, that's the mail!" Dear reader, you cannot imagine how overjoyed I was. I knew that bag contained a letter for me; so anxious was I to receive it I did not trust anyone, but rushed to the office, and ere long my name was called.

I opened it then and there, with an eager look for a green piece of paper styled a "Money Order." I looked, but found it not. All hope vanished; joy faded; and gloom hovered over me - a feeling I never before had, nor since, and I hope never again to have, electrified my body. It was then raining at full headway: the lightnings flashed; the thunders pealed out peal after peal, each succeeding one louder than the first. By this time all had gone to bed but me. I thought thought after thought, prayed prayer after prayer, sent up cry after cry, shed tear after tear. I went to bed, but could not sleep. I then thought of this subject: "O God, Wilt Thou Help Me in School?" After writing it, my feelings were changed, the gloom was dispelled, and 'Smiling Hope' returned with joyous tidings of happiness and a blissful future.

O, God to Thee, who knowest all things,
To Thee each being his praises brings,
In heaven, or earth, or sea, or sky -
To-night to Thee I raise my cry.

To-night as Thou doth know the why,
The why I make each tearful sigh -
Hast Thou not crowned and blest my way?
Why'st Thou forsaken me to-day?

To-night while in my deepest grief,
I calmly wait Thy sweet relief;
Thou knowest I have done my best,
Oh, give my pondering soul some rest.

To-night, O God, grant all to know,
For man to reap he first must sow;
To know to have both bread and wine
He must reap all at harvest time.

To-night, O God, to Thee I plead,
Thou must protect me, guide and lead
Through this which is my darkest night
To a day when Thou shalt give me light.

To-night my soul does bleed with pain,
As murky clouds drip down the rain!
O God, heal me of this heart ache,
For thy dear Son Christ Jesus' sake.

To-night me compass grief and fears,
To-night while drip heart-broken tears;
There seems to be no one to save
My weeping soul from chilly grave.

To-night as I, Thy servant, pray
To Thee, to turn my darkness day,
And change my many blinding fears
To brighter hope for future years.

O restless soul, thou canst not sleep,
For, ship-like, thou art tossed the deep;
Aye, tossed by surge of mighty wave,
With none to share and none to save.

O God, in Thee I now believe,
Since life in Thee I do receive;
I pray Thee now with trembling fear
To my sad soul draw near, draw near.

O God, Thou knowest this night I dread,
As 'twere to number me with the dead -
I plead to Thee as by a rule,
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

To-night, O God, the darkest gloom
Hangs o'er me like a cloud to doom;
I cry while sitting on this stool -
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

This wide world o'er my mind doth roam,
So many miles away from home,
With thoughts thread-like wound in a spool -
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

Dear Lord, I ask of Thee one boon,
Pure as the light of "harvest moon";
And cry as when bathed in a pool -
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

While time and tide flow o'er my mind,
For wisdom, Lord, I ever pine;
But not in folly of a fool -
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

Oh, may I now look up and smile,
As children, mirthful all the while,
When playing in the shade so cool -
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

When life's long journey nears its end,
And friend so dear must part from friend,
To bathe deep in Thy living pool -
O God, wilt Thou help me in school?

Oh days of woe, oh do relent,
For all my sins I now repent,
To bathe in Siloam's ancient pool -
O God, right now help me in school.

Ah, when this stormy life is o'er,
I'll moor my bark on th' eternal shore;
Then shall I cross life's mortal pool,
And God will then help me in school!

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