The epic struggle of the Scottish covenanters to maintain the Reformed faith against the English crown has been documented in some excellent works. This volume of poetry adds to that collection.
James Dickson has compiled twenty-nine poems that span the history of this conflict. The book opens with "The Song of Jenny Geddes" by John Stuart Blackie. The reader is introduced to Geddes' fiery faith as she stood against the royalty's attack on Calvinism.
Other poems include the following: "The Deathbed of Rutherford," "The Two Meek Margarets," and "Elegy on the Death of James Renwick."
A couple of poems are written in the Scottish dialect. The rest are written in easily understood English.
The poetry is of various quality. Dickson notes in the introduction that the poems were chosen for their themes and content not for their poetical merit. In this sense the poems are stunning. They breathe a stirring faith in God even in the face of death. They exhibit a future oriented faith not only the certain hope of eternity in heaven but also the longing for the future resurgence of Calvinism on earth. The poems convey the sadness and grief of a widow's loss as well as an abiding joy that comes with daily trust in a sovereign God Who does all things well.
These poems are well worth reading. They point us to a people who maintained a strong faith in the face of danger and death. How we need such reminders in our day in which a wimpish, compromising faith is promoted.
A number of poems include a brief introduction to set the context of the poem historically. Thus one does not have to know the history of the Covenanters to appreciate or profit from reading these poems.
- Byron Snapp
Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia. He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina. He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren.