Love’s Endeavor

Eric Gill, “Jesus is Nailed to the Cross” (1917)

W. H. Vanstone (1923-1999) was a Church of England parish priest in Sheffield. He wrote this poem and a highly influential book of the same name, out of his experience of parish ministry.

Love’s Endeavor

Morning glory, starlit sky
Soaring music, scholar’s truth,
Flight of swallows, autumn leaves,
Memory’s treasure, grace of youth:

Open are the gifts of God,
Gifts of love to mind and sense;
Hidden is love’s agony,
Love’s endeavor, love’s expense.

Love that gives, gives ever more,
Gives with zeal, with eager hands,
Spares not, keeps not, all outpours,
Ventures all, its all expends.

Drained is love in making full
Bound in setting others free,
Poor in making many rich,
Weak in giving power to be.

Therefore he who shows us God
Helpless hangs upon the tree;
And the nails and crown of thorns
Tell of what God’s love must be.

Here is God: no monarch he,
Throned in easy state to reign;
Here is God whose arms of love
Arching, spent, the world sustain.

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