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A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief/
Have I Done Any Good?

About the Song

Music by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909) and George Coles (1792-1858)
Text by Will L. Thompson (1847-1909) and James Montgomery (1771-1854)
Piano medley arranged by Sally DeFord

These two hymns started singing together in my head one day, and they haven’t stopped since; I can’t hear one without thinking of the other. (If you want detail on the genesis of this arrangement, you can read about it here.)

Piano solos don’t have lyrics but they’re important to this one. The words given below are in the order they might appear in the music–kinda. The middle verses of “A Poor Wayfaring Man…” describe different circumstances in which the poet envisioned himself. Because of the length, I let one musical verse (in minor, of course) stand for all of those.

We probably won’t personally run into people left injured on the roadside very often, nor will we usually have the choice to give our own lives in place of someone who’s been condemned. What we do have on ordinary days is the extraordinary opportunity to serve in ways that are within our reach: make a phone call…  send a text… donate a needed item… mow a lawn… follow the Spirit… love… listen… smile.

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A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief/Have I Done Any Good? – Piano Medley

 

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Lyrics

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
~
A poor, wayfaring Man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief
That I could never answer nay.
I had not pow’r to ask his name,
Whereto he went, or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love; I knew not why.


Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; not a word he spake,
Just perishing for want of bread.
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, but gave me part again.
Mine was an angel’s portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
The crust was manna to my taste.

I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone.
The heedless water mocked his thirst;
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran and raised the suff’rer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipped and returned it running o’er;
I drank and never thirsted more.

‘Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof.
I heard his voice abroad and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof.
I warmed and clothed and cheered my guest
And laid him on my couch to rest,
Then made the earth my bed and seemed
In Eden’s garden while I dreamed.

Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment—he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.

In pris’n I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor’s doom at morn.
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honored him ‘mid shame and scorn.
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die.
The flesh was weak; my blood ran chill,
But my free spirit cried, “I will!”

Then in a moment to my view
The stranger started from disguise.
The tokens in his hands I knew;
The Savior stood before mine eyes.
He spake, and my poor name he named,
“Of me thou hast not been ashamed.
These deeds shall thy memorial be;
Fear not, thou didst them unto me.”
~
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.

Have I done any good in the world today?

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17 Comments

  1. June Mott

    Oh my! My favorite piece, so far. Loved the challenge, and the arrangement.

    Reply
  2. Tamara Kirkham

    Sis. DeFord, you are a gem! Your arrangements are always so comfortable for my hands and I love playing them. I’m grateful for the generous gifts you offer through your music.

    Reply
  3. Carol Virgin

    Your beautiful music always makes my heart rejoice! When I need a lift, I can come to your site and find it every time!

    Reply
  4. Mary Ann Young

    Thank you for your generosity in sharing another beautiful arrangement of the hymns! You are blessed with a wonderful talent!

    Reply
  5. Jody Weeks

    Thank you so much for this arrangement! The message of the words and the spirit of the song are powerful. Thanks again for writing and sharing you talents and doing as the Lord would have you do.

    Reply
  6. Michelle Arnold

    Wonderful Sally, Thank you for putting your heart soul into the beautiful music you create. Today, you brought heaven into my heart as I listened to this song. As a new Young Women leader, I am learning the updated theme. Part of it says, “As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name.” We have known that we act in the name of Christ in many ways. Today this song taught me a new idea. I can receive the service of others – even every good thing- in the name of Jesus. I give the glory to my Father and Savior Jesus Christ for every good thing, including blessings I receive as well as ways I am blessed to serve others. Our God is an awesome God! Thank you for creating music that teaches me in such meaningful ways and brings the Spirit to lift my heart.

    Reply
    • Sally DeFord

      <3

      Reply
  7. Kerri

    Thank you so much for sharing – and I just love the back story! I appreciate your relatable-ness every bit as much as your talent and generosity!

    Reply
  8. Gayla Reese

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful medley of two beloved hymns. My heart was lifted and filled with peace and joy! God bless you!

    Reply
  9. Karolyn Hall

    Sally i love this piece. It is beautifully composed and am so pleased you put it together. We all will use it many times

    Reply
  10. Elizabeth Tambeau

    I’m a church organist in Northern Ontario, Canada. I have always loved your music and although we no longer have a choir and Covid-19 has closed our small church for now, this piece resounds in me. And although my personal Clavinova is presently at the Yamaha ‘hospital’, I can sight read along with the MP3! Thank you!

    Reply
  11. Debbie Johnson

    I love this!!! thank you for being you !!!!

    Reply
  12. Kathy

    My heart is full!! Thank you so much for continually enriching my life!

    Reply
  13. Betsy

    This is beautiful! I just printed the sheet music – hope I can do it justice.
    Thanks so much, Sally.

    Reply
  14. Ellen Clyde

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank YOU!! I love this arrangement. I used to be an advanced player, but now that I’m pushing 70 my fingers are more intermediate -inclined. I was able to sight read this, and it’s a beautiful peace.
    Thank you again. Your talent is amazing.

    Reply
  15. Gina Tippets

    These are two of my favorite hymns, but I have never thought of putting them together! Thank you for the beautiful arrangement!! I love the lyrics put together, I get chills just reading them. This song will be on my list for one of those last minute calls. 😉

    Reply
  16. Candace Holmes

    This is so beautiful! I love your style of playing; it just makes me melt into the sound!

    Reply

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