O Lord, we come this morning
Knee-bowed and body-bent
Before thy throne of grace.

O Lord, this morning,
Bow our hearts beneath our knees,
And our knees in some lonesome valley.
We come this morning,
Like empty pitchers to a full fountain,
With no merits of our own.
O Lord, open up a window of heaven,
And lean out far over the battlements of glory,
And listen this morning.

Lord, have mercy on proud and dying sinners;
Sinners hanging over the mouth of hell,
Who seem to love their distance well.
Lord, ride by this morning
Mount your milk-white horse,
And ride this morning.
And in your ride, ride by old hell,
Ride by the dingy gates of hell,
And stop poor sinners in their headlong plunge.

And now, O Lord, this child of God,
Who breaks the bread of life this morning,
Shadow him in the hollow of thy hand,
And keep him out of the gunshot of the devil.
Take him, Lord, this morning,
Wash your child with hyssop inside and out,
Hang your child up and drain them of sin.
Pin their ear to the wisdom-post,
And make their words sledge hammers of truth,
Beating on the iron heart of sin.
Lord God, this morning
Put our eye to the telescope of eternity,
And let us look upon the paper walls of time.
Lord, turpentine our imagination,
Put perpetual motion in our arms,
Fill us full of the dynamite of thy power,
Anoint us all over with the oil of thy salvation,
And set our tongues on fire.

And now, O Lord,
When I’ve done drunk my last cup of sorrow,
When I’ve been called everything but a child of God,
When I’m done travelling up the rough side of the mountain,
O Mary’s Baby,
When I start down the steep and slippery steps of death,
When this old world begins to rock beneath my feet,
Lower me to my dusty grace in peace.
To wait for that great gettin’ up morning. Amen.

Originally published in God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, James Weldon Johnson, 1927.