And With His Lord Doth Dwell

And With His Lord Doth Dwell

In the summer of 2010, I had the privilege of meeting Jason Fletcher, who is the director of a Charlotte Mason school in Cambridge, England. Jason is personally connected to the Charlotte Mason story in that his wife Fiona is the daughter of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, author of For the Children’s Sake. I remember very clearly my conversation with him as we walked together through the Broad River Greenway.

Somehow our conversation turned to the question of infant baptism. I asked him how he thought about it. With characteristic clarity he said that he understands the practice in light of the idea that children are born persons. Given that children are “in all points like as we are, only much more so” (II:253), he saw no reason why they should be excluded from the sacramental waters.

This conversation came to my mind when Linda Fern and I recently discovered a handwritten, original poem by Charlotte Mason in the digital collection. As far as I can tell, this poem has never before been published, and it was not intended for inclusion in any of the volumes of The Saviour of the World. It is a touching picture of a family bringing their infant to church for the sacramental rite.

But of course the poem does not merely tell a story. As always, Mason ties everyday occurrences to the deep truths not only of theology but also of personhood. Anticipating Fletcher’s remarks a century later, Mason invites infants into the full life of the church. Whether your own tradition leans towards infant dedication or infant baptism, I hope you find in this poem an inspiration to draw you deeper in to the words of Christ, who said, “of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Special thanks to Linda Fern and Antonella Greco for their careful transcription.

And With His Lord Doth Dwell

by Charlotte Mason

Now what a stir is in the house

This Sunday morning fair

Clean frock, clean smock and sunny brow

The children wear; the mother, how

Fresh ribbon, brushed hair

Set off the dear and tender smile

Which the new-shaved father greet;

Gladness diffused to cottage frills;

With sweet and unaccustomed thrills,

Eyes in the cradle meet.

And neighbors come to walk to church,

Two maidens and one man:

The fête, the joy, are all for her,

The baby sweet as lavender

The infant of a span

They bear her to her father’s courts

Promoted by their charge;

And, does she smile, or does she weep

Fond memories will no record keep,

Or tell the tale at large,

When she in her turn brings the babe

for sign upon her brow

When water sprinkled, cross inscribed

Witness to heavenly peace imbibed

No man can tell us how.

“What stuff!” The ready scoffer cries

What may an infant know

Of mysteries of sin or grace

May glorify or else disgrace

The man in him shall grow.

That which is born of flesh is flesh,

And any good may see

The growth, development, the parts

The puny efforts, simple arts

By which he grows in Thee.

The way of the Spirit, none can tell,

Nor how He comes and goes;

In the babe’s secret heart and mind

A knowledge scarce of humankind

The little one may spell,

Not what we hear nor what we see,

Handle and know so well

Makes all the babe his Lord receives

The babe who loves and fears and grieves

And with his Lord doth dwell.

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