I have heard this powerful piece of poetry many times over the years — from a simple, solemn reading in a country church to the majestic pronouncement at the conclusion of the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas show — and I have never failed to be deeply moved by it.
I hope you will enjoy being reminded of it today, as we celebrate the birth of the Son of Man who was also the Son of God. Although only a few shepherds were aware of His arrival, the event was so momentous that it divided time itself.
Here is One Solitary Life.
He was born in an obscure village,
The child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until He was 30.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never went to college.
He never visited a big city.
He never traveled more than 200 miles
From the place where He was born.
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself.
He was only 33
When He died.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied Him.
He was turned over to His enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While dying, His executioners gambled for His clothing,
The only property He had on earth.
When He was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend.
Twenty centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind’s progress.
All the armies that have ever marched,
All the navies that have ever sailed,
All the parliaments that have ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that One Solitary Life.
I didn’t know the origin of One Solitary Life until I researched it last year. It was written by Dr. James Allan Francis in 1925 and later appeared in a book he compiled, The Real Jesus and Other Sermons, published by Judson Press in 1926.
Today, there are many versions extant of One Solitary Life, but this is my favorite. I hope you enjoyed seeing it again.
— Chip Wood