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sad children

Carol of the Seekers

Philip Britts

Available languages: Español, العربية


This poem is taken from a collection of Philip Britts's writings, Water at the Roots: Poems and Insights of a Visionary Farmer.

One day in the fall of 1939, Philip and Joan Britts read a newspaper article about a pacifist group in England whose members tried to live by the Sermon on the Mount, following the example of the early church. At this community, the Bruderhof, which had been recently expelled by the Nazis, Britons and Germans were living and working together as brothers and sisters. Was this what they had been looking for? Philip and Joan had to find out for themselves. That October, they cycled twenty-seven miles to the Cotswold Bruderhof. They stayed for a week and decided to return. Here was a way forward, an answer to their search. They sold their house, left family and friends, and moved to the Cotswold community in November 1939. That Christmas, Philip wrote:

We have not come like Eastern kings
With gifts upon the pommel lying.
Our hands are empty, and we came
Because we heard a baby crying.

We have not come like questing knights
With fiery swords and banners flying.
We heard a call and hurried here –
The call was like a baby crying.

But we have come with open hearts
From places where the torch is dying.
We seek a manger and a cross
Because we heard a baby crying.


Listen to this poem sung by a men’s choir. Music by Wolfgang Loewenthal.


Read the book: Water at the Roots: Poems and Insights of a Visionary Farmer

sad child Nadia, age one and a half, lives in a Lebanese camp for Syrian refugees. Photograph by Jonathan Hyams / Save the Children.
Contributed By Philip Britts Philip Britts

Farmer-poet Philip Britts was born in 1917 in Devon, England. Britts became a pacifist, joined the Bruderhof, and moved to South America during World War II.

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