There are a lot of poems to type in!
Clarence Bentley, my maternal grandfather, was a committed Christian and lived his life solidly following the teaching of the Bible. He, like my paternal grandparents and my parents, was a member of the Glad Tidings Hall, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Church, Boyer Street, Derby. This church had its beginnings above a butcher’s shop in Derby, when its members were massively impacted by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early part of the 20th century - I understand it was the first church in the Midlands to become ‘Pentecostal’ in experience. They grew significantly and took over the much larger hall in Boyer Street - the place to which I was taken as a baby and where I was baptised by full immersion at the age of 10 in 1954, following my decision to ask Jesus to become my Lord and Saviour four years earlier.
Sadly, my maternal grandmother died in 1930 when my mother was 11, so I never knew her. He did marry again, resulting in another son and daughter (Arthur and Eunice) to join the two daughters and son (my mother Iris, Faith and Cecil) he had from his first marriage. In another tragedy this marriage was to end in divorce, so my only memory of him is him living alone in Holtlands Drive, Derby.
c1920 with his then family, Iris sitting on her
mother’s knee and Cecil standing to her left.
When World War One broke out, he stood firm as a conscientious objector, and this being looked upon far more seriously than was the case during World War II, he was sentenced to prison - Wormwood Scrubs. He was treated very badly there, as everyone looked down on those who refused to fight for King and country; and when he was released he was obliged to serve his country by working on a farm. (A poem, 25th April 1915, was written - after conflict - in Hognaston, a tiny Derbyshire village near Carsington Water, and I believe this was when he was on the farm.) On one occasion the farmer set the bull on him, and generally made his life miserable.
When finally he was able to resume a ‘normal’ life, he was a compositor - setting the type for a printing firm. I remember my mother telling me that on one occasion the firm was asked to print a book that involved printing the Greek language. The Christians at Boyer Street studied Greek in order to better understand the New Testament, so he was familiar with it. When the job was finished, the company for whom the job was done contacted the printers to thank them, because not only had the book been printed well, but errors that had been made in the original Greek text of the book had been corrected - my grandfather’s work!
While he was in Wormwood Scrubs, and then after he was released, he wrote some poems, and my mother inherited the book in which he wrote them, although I do not know whether he had this book while in prison (which seems unlikely) or if he wrote on scraps of paper he managed to get hold of and later copied them into the book. When my mother died I inherited the book, and later gave it to Arthur, his son and only surviving member of that generation. Before I did so I photocopied all the pages; and so here are the poems. I have tried to reflect the wording and punctuation exactly as it is written. The language may appear quaint by today’s standards, but the use of ‘thee’ and ‘thou’, for example, was common practice in church circles at that time. My understanding is that where “After conflict” appears in a poem’s title, this refers to difficulties experienced in prison and various battles he faced after being released.
Written November 12th 1914
The moments are passing, how quickly they go.
I say, my dear friend, it’s a blessing to know
That each one was grasped as quick as it came
With one thought in mind, to honour His name.
The moments are passing, but how very small,
Though each one will count in numbering up all,
But listen, dear friend, each one of them make
A life that is lived asleep or awake.
The moments are passing to everyone given
Opportunities many - a ladder to heaven.
“What are they?” you ask; the result will be known
When you and I gather around the Great Throne.
The moments are passing, “the night is far spent.”
Christ Jesus is coming - are you content
With no souls to greet Him, with nothing to bring
As an offering to Jesus - your Saviour and King?
The moments are passing, “awake thou that sleepest,”
And Christ shall give to thee life that is sweetest.
Thrice has He called thee; morn, noon and night,
Hasten to answer, obedience brings light.
The moments are passing, but how very true
That Jesus has something for each one to do.
A service to render, a burden to bear,
A kindly word spoken dries many a tear.
The moments are passing, and what have we done?
How much has been wasted - how many years gone?
Opportunity comes like a wide-open door
Which one day will close to open no more.
The moments are passing, but glory to God,
That life will speak, although ‘neath the sod;
Whose motive was pure, whose love always true
In constant well-doing life’s journey through.
The moments are passing, but each one must bring
Us nearer to Jesus, for to Him we cling.
How precious the moments in fellowship sweet,
Continually hearing the Word at His feet.
The moments are passing, renewed by His power,
We’ll continue to follow hour by hour.
Shadows may darken, faith may grow weak
But He never faileth, ‘tis Him we seek.
The moments are passing, His Word is the same:
A cup of cold water given in Christ’s name
Shall not be forgotten, though years may pass by
As God will reward in eternity.
The moments are passing, grasp every one
Opportunity affords you to honour God’s Son.
Thus life will be sweeter, and nothing be lost,
In honouring Jesus, whatever the cost.
“Learn of Me”
Nov. 26th 1914
“Learn of Me,” O little flock
As it is written, “Ask, seek, knock,
Follow Me” husband and wife.
“I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.”
“Learn of Me,” and do my will
I bid the winds and waves “be still”
“‘Tis he who doeth,” saith my Word
Not they who only say, “Lord, Lord.
“Learn of Me,” When burdens bear
“And take My yoke - life with Me share.
“Rest unto your souls” ye seek,
You shall then know that I am meek.”
“Learn of Me,” the path to know
“For my sake and the Gospel’s, go
Praying still, “Thy will be done”
Then you shall hear the glad “Well done.”
“Learn of Me,” afflicted soul
Your burdens now upon Me roll.
In the stillness of the day
I am listening when you pray.
“Learn of Me,” afflicted one
Physician greater there is none.
Words I speak to make thee whole
And pour fresh life into your soul.
The Setting of the Sun
November 27th 1914
Tune: How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
How beautiful the setting sun,
All golden are its rays;
What splendour and magnificence
God’s handiwork displays.
What warmth it gives, what light it sheds;
Its equal there is none.
How perfect too, in every part,
The work of God alone.
Sometimes the clouds may gather round,
To hide it from our view
That we might value it the more
Each time it passes through.
And yet this is one world alone,
The work of God’s own hand;
And to the sons of men made known
The heavens He has planned.
His purpose is to manifest -
However great or small,
This is the lesson we must learn -
His wondrous love to all.
More warmth than that the sun can give,
Or light than it can shed,
The Son of Righteousness imparts;
To raise souls from the dead.
God Will Keep
November 28th 1914
“Kept in His hand, sealed with His blood,
“All things working together for good.”
His divine purpose unfolding to thee
What has been prepared from eternity.
Kept in His hand, no fears alarm;
No foe can follow to do thee harm.
The secret place of the Most High there dwell
Secure from all fiery darts from hell.
Kept in His hand, there to abide
Walking along by the Saviour’s side.
No better place can be found than this.
Led by His Spirit, thy hand in His.
Kept in His hand, what joy I find.
His covering presence before and behind,
Waiting upon Him, day by day.
He is my God, my Guide, my Stay.
Kept in His hand, walking by faith,
Obedient to what His Spirit saith.
Into green pastures so often led;
Upon His Word, continually fed.
The Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ
December 23rd 1914
We can upon Thy Word rely
That soon again Thou wilt appear
Though scoffers may this truth deny
We feel the time is drawing near.
We have this consciousness within
As sweet as pardon to the soul
Entirely sanctified from sin
Triumphant we shall reach the goal
We know not when the time will be
Our safest guide to “Watch and pray”
For then the Bridegroom we shall see
Ready to meet Him on that day.
Uncertain though Thy saints may be
When Thou shalt come in mighty power
They live in blest expectancy
E’en if it be the midnight hour.
The Great European War
Written Jan. 5th 1915
The noise of battle, Lord we hear
Cannons bursting forth their shell
Too many precious lives we fear
By cruel armaments have fell
Whilst the conflict still is raging
Hatred reaches to its height
Men with men their souls are waging
Watchman! Say, “What of the night?”
Clouds of smoke are gathering round
Gruesome sights behold the eye
Bodies shattered on the ground
Others heard through wounds to sigh
Against each other swords are drawn
As man to man no reason why
Lord, grant us soon a brighter morn
In lasting peace the nations tie.
Amid these scenes a cry we hear
From soldiers’ lips, whose hearts are torn
Realising death so near
“For such an end we were not born.”
Is not God’s purpose through His Son
Whatever nation, class, or tongue
To knit all hearts by love in one
This only can subdue the wrong.
Unless Thy will is done below
Hastening peace can never reign
And Thy love men better know
To forsake all selfish gain.
A Children’s Hymn
Written, Jan 17th 1915
My thoughts are known to Jesus
About Him I must think
If I would grow more holy
And never from Him shrink.
He bids me not forget Him
Whilst in my younger years
But early seek to serve Him
And spare me many tears.
My words are known to Jesus
Yes! Every one I speak
If they are kind and helpful
To some who may be weak.
To know that Jesus listens
How careful I should be
Lest should often grieve Him
Who died on Calvary.
My love is known to Jesus
If it is weak or strong
And, by the love of Jesus
I’m kept from harm and wrong.
There is but one Good Shepherd
Such wondrous love has shown
And they who truly love Him
To others make it known.
The Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ
February 1st 1915
1. Jesus Christ our Lord is coming
Precious truth that God has given
For His saints who now are waiting
His return in power from heaven
We shall know Him when we see Him
By the marks where nails were driven.
CHORUS:- He is coming, He is coming
Jesus Christ Who died for me
He is coming, yes! He’s coming
Soon His lovely face I’ll see
2. Though the cloud that once received Him
Closed again at His command
Jesus’ feet, as it is written,
Shall upon Mount Olives stand.
They will sing the song of Moses
When the saints in heaven land.
CHORUS:- He is coming, etc.
3. He of earth Lord and Creator
None in heaven so great as He
Though by some despised rejected
Everyone shall bow the knee
And the soldiers, which have pierced Him
Filled with terror then will be.
CHORUS:- He is coming, etc.
4. Soon the cry: “Behold He cometh!”
Will His saints with joy exclaim
Whether morning, noon or midnight
They are ready, ‘Praise His Name!
Jesus Christ the Lord is coming
All ye messengers proclaim.
The Risen Lord
February 15th 1915 (after conflict)
He lives, He lives, the Christ Who died
The sin of man to bear;
He lives, He lives, Who overcame
His victory you can share.
Exalted now upon the Throne
Who greater can there be?
Oh, sinner, come, your Saviour own
And He will set you free.
How great the price He had to pay
To clear the sinners guilt
Himself upon the Altar lay
His precious blood was spilt.
No longer now by Satan bound
Or fear of death shall hold,
For God has put His armour round
Christ’s righteousness makes bold.
He lives, He lives, and can impart
The power to conquer sin;
“A broken and a contrite heart”
He longs to enter in.
The Victory Gain
March 1st 1915 (After conflict)
1. Rejoice, the Lord your soul set free
- when lifted up on Calvary’s tree
Upon Himself your sin He took -
- In agony - by God forsook
A righteousness not of your own
He saves you by His grace alone.
CHORUS:- Rejoice, the Lord hath set you free
And mercy, grace and liberty
He gives to you the very hour
You trust in His redeeming power.
2. Your doubts and fears He can remove
Upon the throne He reigns above
To intercede for sinners such
Of Him you cannot ask too much
Just plead the Saviour’s Holy Name
The victory over Satan gain.
CHORUS:- Oh, Praise the Lord, the victory gain
In Jesus all-prevailing Name
All power on earth to Him is given
He lives to intercede in Heaven.
3. There never was a better Friend
Upon His word you can depend
His love so great, so strong and true
And everything for them to do
A crown of thorns upon this brow
“The Fairest of ten thousand” now.
CHORUS:- There never was a better Friend
Always the same, world without end
That love of His will never die
The worth of which gold cannot buy.
(Or: The love of Christ will never fade
Nor shall the gates of Hell prevail.)
“Oh Death, Where is Thy Sting?”
March 2nd 1915
Welcome, O death, from mortal care
For sight will take the place of prayer
When once I pass the bars which now
So many in great terror bow,
And sink beneath the load.
By faith in God’s abounding love,
Expect to meet my Lord above,
Nor fear whilst on the road.
Oh, Blessed Christ, accept my praise
Which I in weakness to Thee raise,
Now broken are the jaws of death,
The Holy Scriptures plainly saith:
“O death, where is thy sting?”
Thus when I reach the land of bliss
I’ll sing a nobler song than this,
To Thee, my Lord and King.
Now grant to me a fuller light,
Before my faith gives place to sight.
Teach me obedience to Thy Word,
Help me to wield the mighty sword,
And in Thy love repose.
Thrice blest is he who thus will love,
And every talent to Thee give:
His soul he shall not lose.
“Trust in Jesus”
March 11th 1915 (After conflict)
O doubting heart, by fears oppressed
In Jesus’ righteousness be dressed
Nor fear at all.
Put on the armour, wield the sword
And with the Spirit of the Lord
Your foes must fall.
Why sink beneath corroding care,
When Jesus waits to answer prayer,
And take thy load?
E’en thought the path seems dark to tread,
Doubt not - you will be safely led
He knows the road.
What though you have to face the foe?
With Jesus as your Captain go
Suffer men’s taunts in Jesus’ strength
You then will share with Him at length
March 16th 15 (After conflict)
When surrounded by your foes
This the victory Satan knows
When your faith gives place to fear,
In your weakness He draws near
Satan cannot make you fall
He will hear you when you call
Until these mighty conflicts cease
In tribulation, this your peace
April 13th 1915 (After conflict)
What shall I render gracious Lord,
For all Thou art to me?
I’ll take the cup which Thou did’st drink
Though bitter it may be.
Why should I faint, or yet complain,
Though great may be the test;
Whilst following Thee along this path
Thy will for me is best.
Oh lead me Lord, nor let me choose
An easier path than this;
For I have taken up the cross
And with it find the bliss.
In life, in death, whate’er betide
Help me to faithful be
The visage, once by man so scarred
In glory I shall see.
April 13, 1915 (After conflict)
Gird on thy sword, O child of God
Fear not to wield it on your way
With the whole armour onward plod
And wear it always, night and day.
The victory to Him belongs
Who knows “the secret of the Lord;”
And only he can bravely fight
Who trusts in God’s almighty Word.
Jesus has conquered every foe
The Captain of salvation He
And in His might, upon the field,
You also shall have victory.
The fallen hosts, by Satan led
In cunning craftiness deceive
Alluring precious souls to doubt
And thus do cords of bondage weave.
But Jesus Christ the Lord o’ercame
And seated now upon the Throne
Led by His Spirit Him to know
Can claim His victory as your own.
April 25th 15 (At Hognaston, after conflict)
What though the way seem dark and drear
His perfect love will cast out fear
The darkness cannot hide His face
For God will manifest His grace -
And lead me on.
What if I’m called upon to make
A sacrifice for His dear sake
‘Tis but a little I can do
And I must gladly do it too
He died for me.
What though my friends despise and shun
Whilst witnessing for God’s dear Son
This is the way the Saviour took
His own disciples Him forsook
Oh, Blessed Christ, to Thee I’ll raise
Each day I live a note of praise
I am not worthy of Thy grace
Yet Thou hast promised me a place
In heaven above.
Whilst here on earth I dimly see
What all Thy love hath wrought for me
But looking for the better day
When the dark shadows flee away
To see Thy face.
The Outstretched Arms
May 4th 1915
His hands were lifted up to save, maybe
To-night you see them lifted up for thee
Those woundprints plainly show
That precious blood did flow
To save you from your sin and misery.
His hands were lifted up to bless, how true
That they are lifted up to rest on you
His touch will make you whole
Pour life into your soul
This very moment ask Him thus to do.
His hands were lifted up to smite, oh yes!
And now, as then, against unrighteousness
Good works cannot appease
The blood alone will please
“Flee from the wrath,” put on Christ’s righteousness.
Composed April 21st 1915
I hear the heathen calling in unmistaken tones
My heart is greatly burdened, for them my spirit groans
In darkness they are groping, in vain they seek for light
Oh hear my prayer, Lord Jesus, and give to them their sight.
How much they long for freedom though circling all around
Are numerous gods to keep them still bowing to the ground
They know not the Deliverer - the One to set them free
By Satan kept in bondage in sin and misery.
More labourers Thou art needing to send into the Field
The harvest truly plenteous, its fruit to Thee shall yield
We plead Thy Name Lord Jesus - we know Thy power to save
The ones by Thee most fitted now and across the wave.
“Dead Unto Sin”
Sept 8th 1915
Put to death O child of God
Just as the seed placed ‘neath the sod
You life with Christ identified
The fleshly lusts all crucified.
Nor need they rise to give Thee pain
The cleanséd heart once more to stain
Once reckoned dead you there abide
The blessing claimed - in Him confide.
Happy release both self and sin
The strongest foes which dwell within
Conquered by God’s Almighty power
Controlled by Him each day each hour.
How sweet to rest upon the Word
Filled with the fullness of the Lord
In knowledge and in grace to grow
Continually to the Spirit sow.
Thus Spirit filled and Spirit led
Joined unto Christ the Living Head
Unto His likeness be conformed
The mind renewed will be transformed.
(No longer to the world conformed
But by His Spirit now transformed.)
Be Ye Steadfast Unmoveable
May 4th 1915 (After conflict)
Since the Saviour fought His way
And conquered in the darkest day
Shall we, who still are in the fight
Be overcome by Satan’s might
When Jesus Christ, at God’s right hand
Can give the power that we may stand
And conquer too?
Since the cross He calmly bore
And rose again to die no more
Shall we, who follow in His train
From that same pathway turn again
Because it means the bitter cup
The very dregs to drink quite up
Since the veil was rent in twain
When Jesus Christ bore sin’s dark stain
Shall we neglect the Throne of Grace
Where strength is found to run the race
Whilst He our Priest there intercedes
And daily pleads the sinners needs
That all may come?
The Lord is My Helper
May 4th 1915
No path too dark for Christ to shed
A radiance bright and clear
His sheep are by Him safely led
The Shepherd’s voice they hear.
No foe too fierce for Christ to meet
Which may beset us here
His foes will soon in haste retreat
Whenever He comes near.
No foe too fierce for Christ to meet
And saints the Victor know
From Him they soon in haste retreat
That mighty Name they fear.
No pain too sharp for Him to feel
Who intercedes above
And those who to His footstool kneel
Know something of His love.
No load too hard for Christ to bear
He gives His saints release
No trouble which he cannot share
He gives a perfect peace.
The European War
June 14 1915 (12.0 p.m.)
Lord Jesus Christ, the Same
We call upon Thy Name
For mercy great
Bid this great conflict cease
Give Universal peace
By Thy strong Hand release
The grip of hate.
Our Advocate with God
Thou hast the winepress trod
May Nations fear Thy Name
Be righteousness their aim
Put all Thy foes to shame
Thou art the Son of Love
The stain of war remove
By Thine own blood
Lead to repentance now
All knees to Thee must bow
Nor faith can question how
Thou workest good.
As King of kings supreme
Foes are not what they seem
Of Lords the Lord
Our prayer of faith repeat
Whilst at Thy Mercy Seat
All foes beneath Thy feet
And sheathed the sword.
Barabbas or Jesus (After preparing a
message on St Luke 23. 20 & 24)
Sept 4th 1915
“Away with this man” I hear the world say
“Give us Barabbas,” the murderer to-day.
Midst the great tumult and for such a throng
Pilate released Him, conscious of wrong>
CHORUS: “Barabbas or Jesus? To gain or to lose
“So Great salvation,” which one will ye choose
“You must give your verdict, you must bow the knee;
“Barabbas or Jesus? Whom shall it be?
Into the judgement hall Jesus Christ came
Led by His enemies - hatred aflame.
Falsely accused, He patiently stood
Submissive and calm, whilst sealing His blood.
or Judas betraying, shed innocent blood.
But did they forever put Jesus away
Who promised so often to rise the third day?
Nay, nay, this same Jesus to-day intercedes;
For sinners unworthy His precious blood pleads.
As Sinbearer and Saviour, before you He stands
The marks of the cross in His piercéd hands.
You must give your verdict, you must bow the knee,
“Barabbas or Jesus?” - Now, whom shall it be?
June 11th 15.
I am a sinner “saved by grace,”
Nor of myself could I retrace
The path which I have trod.
No merits of my own to plead
When in my heart I felt the need
Of Christ, the Son of God.
None righteous, “no not one” my cry
Nor works of righteousness could buy
The pardon of my soul
Jesus Christ, the sinners plea
He died for all - He died for me
His blood has made me whole
When I thus passed from death to life
(From here written on the 18th Sept 1926)
From bondage, darkness, sin and strife
It was through Christ the Lord.
By His own blood and risen power
He cleansed and pardoned in the hour
That I believed His Word
Born from above, regenerate,
Loosened from my lost estate
A child of God assuredly
And bound to Him eternally
By Christ Who died.
Living for Jesus every day
Walking with Him the narrow way
Trusting in Him when doubt and care
Would come along to hinder prayer
Meeting each trial with faith in God
Jan. 10, 16
Exalted now upon Thy Throne
Is Jesus Christ the Lord
Around the throne His glory shines
From Him proceeds a sword
It wounds, it heals, it pierces through
Discerning every thought
And never will to Him return
Unless some fruit is brought
In wondrous Love He speaks to all
Convicting men of sin
The Holy Ghost. The Comforter
Now seeks to enter in
Whosoever will may come
The sinfulest He loves
And patiently, in mercy, too
The heart of stone He moves
Oh, Gracious God, Thy Holy Name
Let every saint adore
Through Jesus Christ Thine Only Son
Who is and was before
To Thee the Father and the Son
The Holy Spirit too
Be glory now and evermore
The lasting ages through
Jan 2nd 16
Oh praise the Lord and read His Word
A blessing you will find
The peace of God has never failed to keep
the heart and mind
Walk in the light - by faith not sight
And ye will never fail
Though Satan seeks to hinder you with
Christ you must prevail.
Dec. 7. 1915.
Though in the sky the clouds may form
And scatter darkening rays
I’ll lift my heart to Thee, Oh, God
In thankfulness and praise.
The clouds of sin indeed were dark
And darker could not be
When to Thee I gave no return
For love bestowed on me.
Ah more than what we know or think
In sunshine or in shade
Eye hath not seen nor ear hath heard
What wonders Thou hast made.
But Thou hast changed my night to day
And now - whate’er betide
The veil withdrawn - this is my joy
Nothing Thy face can hide.
(Text in red added by Les Sherlock as this line was blank after the first word)
God On The Throne
Dec. 14. 15
As black as night the landscape oer
The angry waves and billows roar
With all its strength the wind must own
And can but teach - God on the throne
God on the throne - my theme just now
The strongest gale to Him must bow
Wars may come and wars may go
But still this wondrous truth I know
Nations may fall and rise again
Wrong against right may seem to reign
But He who bade the winds “be still”
Makes all submissive to His will.
Once again ‘tis Christmas time
The Gospel Bells so sweetly chime
The message of God’s peace
Jesus Christ the Saviour came
Embodied in a mortal frame
The captives to release.
Rejoice ye saints of His, rejoice
Praise Him with heart and mind and voice
The Prince of Peace is He
Oh, happy day when Christ was born
And happier still the day to dawn
When we His Face shall see
The Holy Child Jesus
Jan 15. 16
Hail, Child of Joy, come in the midst
A sinful world to bless
Through Thee the sinner may receive
A robe of righteousness
Of women’s seed the promise came
Though through Eve came the fall
And highly favoured of the Lord
Was Mary among all
'Twas in the manger where they laid
The Saviour, Jesus Christ
With God throughout His ministry
A never-broken tryst
Oh, wondrous gift, Thou God of Love
Thine only Son to give
Uplifted was the Spotless Lamb
For man to look and live
He, on the third day rose again
Triumphant o’er the tomb
From Cross to Crown - now glorified
That hour to his has come.