This week somebody slid two little brown envelopes under the church door. Inside the two envelopes were two identical notes containing a much-photocopied anonymous handwritten note. (My thoughts of a generous donation were dashed. ) It is a poem and this is what it says:


When Jesus came to Glasgow,
they simply passed him by.
They never hurt a Hair of him,
They only let him Die.

For men have grown more tender
and they would not give him pain.
They only just passed down the Street
and left him in the Rain.

Still Jesus cried, Forgive them
for they know not what they do
and still it rained the Wintry Rain,
that drenched him through and through.

The Crowd went Home, and Jesus
crouched and left the streets
Without a Soul to see,
Against a wall and cried for Calvary.

Well, what do we think of that then? It does have the word ‘OBAN’ written in the top corner underlined twice. Did it come from there? And why was it delivered to me in Falkirk when clearly it is meant for someone in Glasgow?

Tis today’s mystery.

5 thoughts on “Indifference

  1. Simplistic – true that some are indifferent, but not that all are. Jesus did not die because people are cruel, but because they could not face the stirring up he did – this poem suggests to me that the writer has a very imperfect understanding of the forces that lead to the crucifixion. I’ve seen it (rather often) before. It sounds like a cry for help.

    But there is a germ of truth in it. A good deal of suffering gets ignored.

  2. I think Studdert Kennedy knew the forces that led to the Crucifixion all too well….. and do look, Rosemary, at Kenneth Leech’s consideration of this poem in ‘We Preach Christ Crucified’.

  3. This is the original by Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929) – published in his Collected Poetry, “The Unutterable Beauty.” It’s Birmingham that takes the honours rather than Glasgow – but of course it could be true anywhere.


    When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged Him on a tree,
    They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
    They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
    For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

    When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed Him by,
    They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
    For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
    They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

    Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
    And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched Him through and through;
    The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
    And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

  4. Woodbine Willie – a great man. Didn’t know it was him. I still don’t much like it though – which is no disrespect to Kennedy. I don’t think that, over all, this poem takes account of just how obnoxious Jesus, the real historical Jesus, made himself. In as far as the point is that neglect and disparagement are a terrible pain, it is fair enough. But Jesus was crucified for challenging too many in ways too obvious – and that kind of thing never gets ignored.

  5. The writer seems to me to be saying that being ignored is more hurtful than being confronted, as I know someone who has deliberately ignored me to be hurtful I can agree with him.

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