There is a poem that has been printed and read for years at Christmas time. I have often read it but until this year I never really questioned who wrote it or why. Writing this month about my memories of past Christmas times I thought of this poem and decided to find out who wrote it.
I discovered it was part of a sermon given by Dr. James Allan Francis, a Baptist minister born in Canada. He gave the sermon on July 11, 1926 speaking to the Baptist Young People’s Union. The message was titled, “Arise Sir Knight.” Transcribed by a friend Dr. Francis published it in a collection of his sermons.
Later minor changes were made to the original words and it has become a popular poem used throughout the church, but especially at Christmas time.
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never owned a home.
He never had a family.
He never went to college.
He never put his foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of his divine manhood.
While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied him.
Another betrayed him.
He was turned over to his enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he was dying, and that was his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.