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Sermons We See
Edgar Guest


I'd rather see a sermon than hear one any day; 
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. 
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear, 
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear; 
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds, 
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.

I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done; 
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run. 
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true, 
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do; 
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give, 
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind. 
When a weaker brother stumbles and a strong man stays behind 
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me 
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be. 
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today 
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

One good man teaches many, men believe what they behold; 
One deed of kindness noticed is worth forty that are told. 
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear, 
For right living speaks a language which to every one is clear. 
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say, 
I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one, any day.


This poem is in the public domain.



Edgar Guest (1881 - 1959)  was born in England,  but moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan, when he was ten years old. He worked for more than sixty years at the Detroit Free Press, publishing his first poem at the age of seventeen, then going on to become a reporter and columnist whose work was featured in hundreds of newspapers around the country. Edgar is said to have written some 11,000 poems during his lifetime, most of it sentimental, short, upbeat verse. Critics often derided his work, but America adored him. He was known as the "People's Poet," served as Michigan's poet laureate, hosted a long-running radio show and TV show, and published more than twenty books.




Post New Comment:
I have been moved equally by the comments below as I have this simply beautiful poem.. Words obviously written by an individual whom was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Posted 01/02/2023 08:22 PM
Paul holderfield Jr :
51 years ago my father founded a church, Friendly Chapel in North Little Rock, Ar. Dad was not a preacher. He was a NLR Fireman. In 1957 during the intergration of Little Rock Central HS, Dad had refused to shake the extended hand of a friend he grew up with because Jimmy Lipkin was a black man. My dad was convicted that day that he had been taught wrong and couldnt be more sorry for this ugly incident that all the fireman saw such humor in. Paul Holderfield Sr. Made a decision that day. He told his wife & kids, I am so wrong & I dont care what anyone says or thinks, I will never do it again. He meant what he said. Twelve years when he met another friend named Jesus & saw such prejudice in that little church where he was introduced to his new friend Jesus he prayed how to respond. God led an uneducated fireman to found a church in 1970 that would welcome anyone no matter race, economic standing, or which side of the tracks. The church was founded according to the NLR Police in maybe the worst crime area in Arkansas. Dad in those first years said 100 times, we just trying to be a sermon seen in this neighborhood. One day he said, a man named Edgar A. Guest wrote a poem SERMONS WE SEE that describes the church we were founded to be. Dad then quoted it the first time of probably 250 times. I his son have quoted it at least that many times. Thank you Edgar A. Guest & thank you.
Posted 08/14/2022 03:39 PM
When I was in the six-grade in a small Northwestern Kansas town, Anna Schutte, my teacher introduced me to Edgar Guest. Even though she may not remember me before her death in 2006, I have fond memories of her, and the lessons learned. Later this year I plan to attend an all-school reunion and will drive 30 miles west to her hometown to visit her grave. In my heart I truly believe that she will hear me gives thanks for her lessons and the introduction to Edgar Guest. I am the man I am today because of it. Al
Posted 05/23/2022 12:40 PM
I have always loved the poetry of Edgar.
Posted 07/17/2016 07:04 PM
Lori Levy:
Very true!
Posted 07/17/2016 12:01 PM
Jean :D:
This was one of my mother's favorite sayings. It was so good to read the whole thing! This should be required reading by everyone!!
Posted 07/17/2016 09:27 AM
I absolutely love this poem. NO POLITICS NEEDED!!
Posted 07/17/2016 09:10 AM
Patiently waited for almost 70 years. To SEE my core beliefs. Celebrated within a poem. Thanks to Edgar & Jayne, too. Smiles.
Posted 07/17/2016 07:59 AM
What a wonderful poem. With all the nonsense we are are all being fed in both our countries I'd like to see it on billboards everywhere...Perhaps a copy to every politition would surfice!
Posted 07/17/2016 07:49 AM
I recently listened to a sermon on compassion, all the while wondering where this person's compassion had been in a specific incident. I love this poem, it is what we should all be doing. Plus, I've always liked Edgar Guests writing. So easy to read and understand.
Posted 07/17/2016 06:11 AM

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