Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Master Weaver

I first published this amazing poem on Being Woven in 2010, shortly after I began the blog. Over the years, it is the most referred to post on this blog site. So I decided to repost it…twelve years later!!

This poem has been around for years and years, yet it fits so beautifully with me, my blog, my creative bent as a weaver, and my life being woven by God, the Master Weaver.  I have been a weaver and spinner of wools for years, and know the time it takes to create a weaving, a simple wall weaving, a pillow.  I am also a weaver of words as I sit behind a keyboard. I begin to imagine the intricacies of this body I live in…the organs and their interconnectedness, the skin, the eyes, the ears, the bones, and then there is one’s creative side or our emotional makeup, and on and on …

I pray that I remain patient and hopeful as the LORD, my God, weaves the woof over and under the warps.  One day He will be finished with me.  And then I shall meet Him face-to-face.

Our lives are but fine weavings,
that God and we prepare,
each life becomes a fabric planned,
and fashioned in his care . . .

We may not always see,
just how the weavings intertwine,
but we must trust the Master’s hand,
and follow His design.

For He can view the pattern,
upon the upper side,
while we must look from underneath,
and trust in Him to guide.

Sometimes a strand of sorrow,
is added to His plan,
and though it’s difficult for us,
we still must understand.

That it’s He who flies the shuttle,
it’s He who knows what’s best,
so we must weave in patience,
and leave to Him the rest . . .

Not till the loom is silent,
and the shuttles cease to fly,
shall God unroll the canvas,
and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needed,
in the Weaver’s skillful hand,
as the threads of gold and silver,
in the pattern He has planned.

Psalm 139:13-18

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

LORD, thank You for weaving me into the girl that I was, the young woman I have been, the woman that I am today, and the one I shall be in the remainder of my days here on earth.  As You complete this woven woman, LORD, make me complete in You.  One day I shall meet You face-to-face and be Your woven masterpiece.  I am grateful.  I love You, LORD.  Amen. 

The question below is one of the most asked so I decided to reprint it along with the poem this day:

Q:

Hi, Could you please tell me if this poem is copyrighted or not? I understand the author is Grant Colfax Tullar and I would love to quote it in my family history but want to make sure I will not be breaking copyright. I would be MOST grateful for your reply.

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Fay, as a retired librarian, I have been researching in order to answer you with a question asked by many all over the internet. A Libray of Congress librarian gave an impeccable answer. You will find the actual answer to your question down near the base of her answer. I am going to post it on my blog because she answers more questions I have had here as well. My version is different from many on the internet. I am more confused than before but I still love the poem! 

~~~~~

“We’ve received a fair few pieces written from pre-existing lyrics and we can only accept lyrics that are in the public domain. To check this, a bit of digging is needed. Here’s a recent reply to one of our lyric queries (The Weaver) from a very helpful researcher from the Library of Congress – a really interesting read, long but worth it! If you need any information like this, I highly recommend that you use the ‘ask a librarian’ service at the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/rr/askalib/” ** This first paragragh is from http://www.theworshipbook.com/blog/lyrics-whodunnit

Here’s the excellent reply:
“Dear Ms. Hocking,
“I’ve gotten several questions about “The Weaver” in the last few years and this is what I have found in my research.
“As it turns out, there are many poems by many authors called “The Weaver,” so I was not entirely certain which one you mean. When I did a general Internet search, however, I found one poem credited to Corrie Ten Boom, Grant Colfax Tullar, and Benjamin Malachi Franklin which begins:
“My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily. 

“So, I assume this is the poem you would like to know about. There are claims about several authors having written the poem.
I can rule out Corrie Ten Boom as there are a number of references to the fact that she read this poem by Tullar and then often recited it or quoted from it in her speeches giving him credit. You can find one such reference at http://www.elisabethelliot.org/newsletters/march-april-98.pdf by someone who heard her speak. 

“I found the claim by Bob Corley about his grandfather Benjamin Malachi Franklin to be confusing. He states that his grandfather wrote the poem in the 1940s and that it was published in 1950 in The Memphis Commercial Appeal Newspaper. Mr. Corley says it was copyrighted in 2006, but I did not find anything by Franklin in the Copyright online catalog. There is nothing like this poem under the name Bob Corley and there are many different Robert Corleys, again with nothing like this poem. When I search by the title “The Weaver” I find dozens of items. And the registration number Mr. Corley provides seems to have too many digits. 

“Searching by title is also problematic because I have found this poem on the Internet under a wide variety of titles including:
“The Weaver
The Weaving
Tapestry Poem
My Life is But a Weaving
Master Weaver’s Plan
Upper and Under Side 

“You can search the Copyright catalog yourself at http://cocatalog.loc.gov, but I do not know if this will prove useful. The online catalog only goes back as far as 1978. You can have a search done by the Copyright Office of older card files, but a fee is charged. I also found many older examples of this poem published considerably before the 1940s. 

“I then used Google Books http://books.google.com and the HathiTrust http://www.hathitrust.org as both these sites have many digitized books and some periodicals freely available full-text prior to 1923. The following citations come from The HathiTrust. 

“The earliest citation I found was from:
“British Books in Print, 1910, volume 2 from something called “Bagster’s Quotation Cards.” Just the first part of the poem was given and listed as anonymous for the author. 

“The Pacific” Vol. LXV, No. 42, October 20, 1915, page 81 also listed it as anonymous. 

“Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen’s Magazine,” Volume 59, 1915, page 123 and again no author is provided. 

“The Woman’s Label League Journal,” September 1919, p. 14 listed Rev. John Tabb. “The Holy Cross Purple, ” Vol. 33, October 1920-June 1921, p. 452 also listed Father Tabb with an article about his poetry. 

“So John Banister (sometimes misspelled Bannister) Tabb, 1845-1909 is credited fairly early with this poem. Unfortunately, I have not found a specific date to tie together Grant Colfax Tullar, 1869-1950, to this poem and can not search all of his published works. You can get brief information on him from the Bolton (Connecticut) Historical Society at http://www.boltoncthistory.org/granttullar.html

“Recognizing that poetry was often printed in newspapers, I then turned to the Chronicling America website available at http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov where newspapers from 1836-1922 from across the United States are freely available. If you use the “advanced search” and search on the phrase “my life is but a weaving,” you’ll find the July 27, 1892 Somerset Herald from Somerset, Pennsylvania providing this poem with the author given as Florence May Alt. The poem credited to Alt also appeared in the Shenandoah (Virginia) Herald in 1892. 

“I also did the same search in two subscription databases. I have attached a copy of the poem from “The American Farmer” as it appeared in August of 1892 with Alt as the author. The earliest copy I found citing Alt was from the Troy Weekly Times, Volume XXXVI, issue 42, page 6 from May 19, 1892. 

“So, the potential authorship is between Alt, Tabb, and Tullar. I can pin an 1892 date to Alt. Tabb’s first published collection of poetry was in 1894 and the poem does not appear in it. He could, of course, have written the poem earlier and it might have appeared somewhere other than a book of published poetry. I didn’t find it in print until 1919, but there is no way to do a comprehensive search of all places the poem could have been published. Similarly, I have no date to tie the poem to Tullar. 

“Amusingly, there are questions that appeared in the 1930s in the “Notes and Queries” column in the New York Times asking who the author of the poem is. No answer is provided! 

“Without examining everything ever written by these three individuals, it is impossible for me to say for certain who the original author is. We now have three choices again, but at least we ruled out two of the three that are mis-attributed all over the Internet!

“While I am unable to rule on whether someone officially holds copyright (you would need to contact the Copyright Office http://copyright.gov/ ), it is clear that this poem was published before 1923 putting it in the public domain. Again, it might depend which version you are using, but there seem to be plenty published before 1923.

“I hope this answers your question, but if you have additional ones, please write again.

“Abby Yochelson
Reference Specialist
English and American Literature
Main Reading Room
Humanities & Social Sciences Division
Library of Congress

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Oranges in Loom weaving @ FreeImages

Backside of a weaving @ TapestryShare.blogspot

Weaving @ Hangs By a Thread

Colorful Weaving @ The Scrubba

Knit Me Together @ Pinterest

Photo of Weaving/Weaving itself created by me… Linda Gill (I handspun all the yarns and wove them on a handmade (by me) Navajo loom.

10 thoughts on “The Master Weaver

  1. I love this stanza, Linda: “For He can view the pattern, upon the upper side, while we must look from underneath,
    and trust in Him to guide.” – Oh, the visual of what I have struggled with. This stanza is liberating in so many ways – because I realize He has a different view, a different perspective than I do! I’d never read this before – but what a good! Good Poem! (and, how exasperatingly amusing, that there should be a yarn tangle over authorship). Happy, Blessed 2022, my friend! Praying it is a year of roots growing deep, relationships budding in your new community, a joy warming through your heart!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for re-sharing, Linda. I forwarded it to several friends also. So beautiful to reflect upon. Do you follow Abbie’s Little Birdie blessings. She shares of a hymn’s making that then made me think of this post of yours too. It was a series of co-incidences that led to that well-known being written, music score composed, published and becoming well-known.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lisa, go down below the actual poem. Your question is a very common one so at some point, I found an extremely thorough answer at The Library of Congress. I have copied and pasted it below the poem on this post.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks, Linda. That is very thorough and very interesting. I always heard it attributed to Corrie ten Boom, so it was insightful to hear she attributed to someone else. And it sounds like he “needed” to attribute to another. Quite the research project!

      Liked by 1 person

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