October 18, 2012

Tillman: So declares the precious Word

Few biographical details about Katherine Davis Chapman, a black writer born in Illinois. At some point, it is believed she married a pastor named G. M. Tillman. Many of her poems were published in the Christian Recorder, including her first when she was 18. Six years after that, a poem titled "The Pastor" was published in the Christian Recorder on October 18, 1894 with a dedication to Rev. G. M. Tillman:

In a lonely little parish
For a year a man of God
Taught in love the common people
Of the pathway Christ has trod.

Told to them the old, old story
Of the wondrous One who gave
His own life on Calvary's summit
Lost and ruined souls to save.

Sometimes it was told in gladness,
But there, too, were hours of pain.
That they followed not the Savior,
Though besought o'er and again.

Oft he deemed his labor wasted,
Many times discouraged grew,
But, withal, he had resolved that
He would to the cross be true.

But no life that's truly given
To the service of the Lord
E'er is lost but in the seeming,
So declares the precious Word.

Words that months ago he'd spoken
One day quickened into life,
And a soul communed with Jesus
That before had known but strife.

Then the pastor's heart was gladdened
And his Godly faith renewed,
For he'd prove the precious promise.
He had waited on the Lord.

*Recommended reading: The Works of Katherine Davis Chapman Tillman (Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers) (1991), edited by Claudia Tate, the only major scholar of Chapman Tillman that I found.

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