On the Mercy Seat

No cherub pair or plate of solid gold

Adorns the place we call our Place of Prayer,

But silent splendour draped in colours bold

Stands guard each end, relaxed in gentle air.

The seat, rough wood now elegantly trimmed

And varnished to resist those briny stainsj0332982.gif

Of penitential tears forgiveness-rimmed,

Which flow to those of joy as guilt soon wanes.

Then where's God's word? Not underneath it all,

Removed from sight for none to view again,

Not in an ark preserved for mere recall,

But opened, read, proclaiming truth so plain.


Is this our boast, this seat of humbled pride?

'Tis but one place communion-sanctified.


The Assembly Hall, Denmark Hill, with echoes of Exodus 25.

November 1967