“O Lord – Not More Verse”


Perhaps best known as the lyrics writer of the 11 Gowans/Larsson musicals, General John Gowans has just published his third collection of his poems. Like its predecessors, O Lord, Not More Verse! expresses spiritual truths with clarity and humor. As well as verse, this collection includes words of several songs written for particular occasions.

A Salvation Army officer since 1955, and accompanied since 1957 by his wife, (now) Commissioner Gisele, Gowans has had wide experience in Britain, France, the Australia Eastern/Papua New Guinea Territory, and the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland.

He served in the Western Territory from 1981-85 as Secretary for Program at THQ, and from 1985-86 as Southern California Divisional Commander. He was elected General in 1999.

O Lord, Not More Verse! ©The General of The Salvation Army – 1999.


This arid Arizona
Hurts my eyes…
With all its burning sands
And brazen skies.
The rocks bake silently
Beneath the sun,
And never move–
Just as they’ve always done.

The stubby cactus,
Only barely green,
Attempts in vain
To civilize the scene.
Like some great animal
The landscape lies,
Clubbed into dumb submission
As it dies.

Yet, not entirely sterile
Is this land,
For mousy creatures stir
Beneath its sand.
The grey-green cactus too
Will have his hour,
And break, if briefly,
Into fiery flower.

No desert, so it seems,
Is quite deserted.
The grimmest knows
A little of your grace.
Help me detect your hand
At work upon it;
Discover beauty in
Its driest place!


I put my hands together
And I stand
Before your throne.
Just me!
And yet there’s more than me;
In fact I’m not alone!
Behind me stands
A motley crowd.
I want to speak for those
Who give themselves
In service
For the nameless no one knows.
Your servants
Who spend all they have,
And sometimes something more,
In drying tears,
And calming fears,
And often waging war
On poverty, on loneliness,
On hopelessness and grief,
On sadness and on badness,
Never asking for relief.

Please give your willing ones
The strength
And all the grace they need.
I can’t do much to help them,
I can only

O hear me, Lord.
Be near them, Lord.
For them I pray this prayer.
And, when they need you
Most of all,
Just let them know
You’re there!


Lead me not into temptation?
I’m not sure you ever do!
And it seems to me the trouble
Lies with me and not with you!

I surround myself with dangers,
Taking risks I need not take,
Then rely on you to save me
From the messes that I make!

Lead me not into temptation?
I am often so inane.
When I wander into danger,
Please, Lord, lead me out again.


The harvest is not mine to plan;
My job’s to keep on sowing.
And what will prosper, this or that,
There really is no knowing.

Then let me sow with faith and hope,
And, if I must, with weeping,
Content because, just now and then,
You let me share the reaping!


His hat flew high
Into the air.
The bucking horse
Was mad.
The boy hung on
With all the skill
And all the strength
He had!
At last he landed
In the mud,
But heard above
The din,
He’d kept his seat
And held the reins
Just long enough
To win!

Give me the grace
When things are rough
To take it with
A grin,
And hang on
In adversity
Just long enough
To win!


He preaches like an angel,
Before he’s through
The driest eye is moist.
He woos and wins
The hardest heart
To you,
And in the pulpit
He’s a giant, true!
But when he climbs down
From that vaulted place,
His attitudes wear
Quite a different face!
He’s cold and distant,
Doesn’t seem to care
How we are faring,
Hasn’t time to spare.

His ways deny
The very truth he teaches.
Lord, help the man
To practice
What he preaches.

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