“Song of the Bishop” By Addie E. Holmberg

A Song for the Bishop is Holmberg’s tribute to and history of the Wind River Indian Reservation and Fremont County’s Episcopal minister the Reverend John Roberts, 1853-1949.

Holmberg died in 1941 so this tribute would have been written several years prior to Roberts death.

A Song for the Bishop

Oh, a song for the Bishop, gracious and kindly,
So gentle and old; refusing to pose

Oh, a song for the Bishop, gracious and kindly,

With saints, savants and heroes, eulogized blindly,

Too modest by far to be numbered with those.

He goes on his way, still responding to duty---

A little more frail, as his century mark nears---

Respected, beloved, in a sunset of beauty,

He rounds out the roll of the long, golden years!

 

Sometime, it may be at daybreak or even,

At noontime, at midnight, a summons may come,

The gates to be flung wide at the portal of Heaven,

And the Bishop be ushered, joyfully, home!

Lovingly, tenderly, brown hands will carry him,

And lay him to rest ‘till the last trumpets sound,

With flowers, and tears, and prayers will we bury him;

But whoso may fathom our feelings profound!

 

But why should we now seem careless, unheeding?

Ever hide in our hearts the things we should say?

Can we not make a scroll, a book of remembrance,

Or a song for the Bishop, gentle and gray?

‘twere fitting to bring him a tribute, an offering,

Like a wreath of green pine set with bright immortelles,

Though slight be the gift or the worth of the proffering,

If it point to a deep, flowing fountain that wells.

 

In his rugged young manhood he came to Wyoming,

Far from his hold home, to our mountains and plains;

His life has he given, unwearied, unroaming,

In such unselfish service, here still, he remains!

When, in Wind River Valley he founded this mission,

What prize did he seek? What ever his goal?

To serve the poor tribesmen, improve their condition---

He sought to administer peach to each soul!

 

The call of the Master, he heard it, obeyed it!

That message, he loved we would give to all men!

Unswerving he taught it, nor ever betray it,

Through each stress and disaster he triumphed again.

All those little white churches, he dreamed of and founded---

School houses, neat manses, great trees by the way---

He planned them and planted them, rooted and grounded

In the soil, and the hearts of his people, to stay!

 

Birdwoman, Chief Washakie, Chief Lone Bear, and others,

He knew them, baptized them, buried them too!

Their feasts he attended; babes, fathers, and mothers,

He cheered them, advised them, all the way through.

Shoshones and Arapahoes have buried the hatchet,

The old feuds are fading, the peach choral nears!

Still busy, the Bishop finds open each latchet!

He leads the thin line of grand old pioneers!

 

The old days are past, with their toil and their danger,

Their hardships, their problems, burdens and cares,

When, relieving the soldier, the rancher, the ranger,

Afoot, or ahorse, forth the missioner fares!

Near or far, at each call, his banner went flying,

New chapels to build, roads, bridges, or none!

New babies to christen, to care for the dying,

New couples to wed --- so the long years have run!

 

But, as long as the ripple shall run in the river,

Warm feelings shall run, that say human hearts;

These shall go on and deepen, forever,

These, these shall go on, though the Bishop departs!

Peoples and nations; men, native or alien;

Cultured or barbarous; passionate, cold

Traditions and creeds, pass; all, Episcopalian

Or other, shall gather, at least in one fold!

 

Medals and ribbons may honor the soldier,

Medallions and shields be inscribed to the strong;

Their deeds be applauded, heroically bolder,

Be sung or recited, in eulogies long!

But Ah, for the priest, the teacher, the pleader,

What tokens of favor, to these can we send?

How laud, so unostentatious a leader?

Just a lowly advisor, comforter, friend?

 

No high honors he craved; no rewards would he live for;

Love’s uplifted cross, for that he would die!

He sought out the lost, his life he would give for

The erring’s return, the redemption would buy!

But, Oh! when the mountains break forth into singing,

When all men shall arise, free from evil that mars,

When, for the new earth, all the joybells are ringing---

May the good Bishop wear, then, a bright crown of stars!

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