Origin of the Poem "When God Wants To Drill A Man"

The poem as quoted in Oswald J. Sander's (not to be confused with Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)) Spiritual Leadership (1967) credits it to an "Author Unknown". The poem as he quotes it is as follows:
When God wants to drill a man
   And thrill a man
   And skill a man,
When God wants to mold a man
   To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
   To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
   Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
   Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
   And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
   Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
   And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
   When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses
   And with every purpose fuses him;
   By every act induces him
To try His splendour out--
   God knows what He's about!
                                    (Author Unknown)

Some have credited the poem under the title "Whom God Chooses" to Rev. Henry Francis Lyte (1793–1847), an Anglican hymnwriter and poet. But, I wasn't able to find it in any major collection of hymns written by him (See Hymntime, Cyberhymnal, Hymnary). But, there should be a reason why someone first credited it to him before many others copied the information.

Some others think it is a Christianized form of a poem originally written by an American poet Angela Morgan (1875-1957). Angela's poem "When Nature Wants A Man" is found in pages 92-95 of her anthology >Forward, March (1918), published by John Lane Company, New York. The poem is as follows:

When Nature wants to drill a man
And thrill a man,
And skill a man,
When Nature wants to mould a man
To play the noblest part;
When she yearns with all her heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall praise
Watch her methods, watch her ways!
How she ruthlessly perfects
Whom she royally elects;
How she hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which only Nature understands
While his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands!--
How she bends, but never breaks,
When his good she undertakes . . .
How she uses whom she chooses
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every art induces him
To try his splendour out--
Nature knows what she's about.

When Nature wants to take a man
And shake a man
And wake a man;
When Nature wants to make a man
To do the Future's will;
When she tries with all her skill
And she yearns with all her soul
To create him large and whole . . .
With what cunning she prepares him!
How she goads and never spares him,
How she whets him and she frets him
And in poverty begets him . . .
How she often disappoints
Whom she sacredly anoints,
With what wisdom she will hide him,
Never minding what betide him
Though his genius sob with slighting and his pride may not forget!
Bids him struggle harder yet.
Makes him lonely
So that only
God s high messages shall reach him,
So that she may surely teach him
What the Hierarchy planned.
Though he may not understand
Gives him passions to command--
How remorselessly she spurs him,
With terrific ardour stirs him
When she poignantly prefers him!

When Nature wants to name a man
And fame a man
And tame a man;
When Nature wants to shame a man
To do his heavenly best . . .
When she tries the highest test
That her reckoning may bring--
When she wants a god or king!--
How she reins him and restrains him
So his body scarce contains him
While she fires him
And inspires him!
Keeps him yearning, ever burning for a tantalising goal--
Lures and lacerates his soul.
Sets a challenge for his spirit,
Draws it higher when he s near it--
Makes a jungle, that he clear it;
Makes a desert, that he fear it
And subdue it if he can--
So doth Nature make a man.
Then, to test his spirit s wrath
Hurls a mountain in his path--
Puts the bitter choice before him
And relentlessly stands o er him.
"Climb, or perish!" so she says . . .
Watch her purpose, watch her ways!

Nature's plan is wondrous kind
Could we understand her mind ...
Fools are they who call her blind.
When his feet are torn and bleeding
Yet his spirit mounts unheeding,
All his higher powers speeding
Blazing newer paths and fine;
When the force that is divine
Leaps to challenge every failure and his ardour still is sweet
And love and hope are burning in the presence of defeat . . .
Lo, the crisis! Lo, the shout
That must call the leader out.
When the people need salvation
Doth he come to lead the nation . . .
Then doth Nature show her plan
When the world has found--a man!

The "Christianized" theory, obviously, seems more plausible.


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