The One Needful Thing


The One Needful Thing
William Etty, Mary, Lady Templeton, 1808

In Martha's house the weary Master lay,
Spent with His faring through the burning day.
The busy hostess bustled through the room
On household cares intent, and at His feet
The gentle Mary took her wonted seat.
Soft came His words in music through the gloom.

Cumbered about much serving Martha wrought
Her sister listening as the Master taught
Till something fretful an appeal she made:
 " Doth it not matter that on me doth fall
The burden ; Mary helpeth not at all ?
 Master, command her that she give me aid."

 "Ah, Martha, Martha! thou art full of care,
And many things thy needless trouble share."
Thus with the love that chides the Master spake:
" One thing alone is needful. That good part
Hath Mary chosen from her loving heart ;
And that part from her shall I never take."

One thing alone we lack. Our souls, indeed,
Have fiercer hunger than the body's need.
Ah, happy they that look in loving eyes.
The harsh world round them fades. The Master's Voice
In sweetest music bids their souls rejoice
And wakes an echo there that never dies.  


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