Tag Archives: John Greenleaf Whittier


William Andrew Dillard

John Greenleaf Whittier is credited with creating the phrase, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.” The now famous truism was penned by the writer in 1856 in an extended story poem entitled “Maud Muller.” It was a beautiful work, centered on a fair young lady who was very poor meeting a handsome young judge and fantasizing about what life might have been for her had she the fortune to be his wife.
My sixth grade class was required to memorize the poem, and to create a scrapbook depicting the several scenes it contained. Incidentally, “The Ancient Mariner” was another such requirement. Central lesson points were permanently embedded in young minds to serve us all well in the years ahead. Doubtlessly, youngsters of today miss much of what was an excellent education back then.
Life holds a number of memories of critical decisions that directs one’s path. Sometimes those decisions are good, and sometimes not so good, leaving one to wonder, and perhaps say, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been.”
In the course of everyone’s days, there is an appointment so universal that no one escapes it. The writer of Hebrews states it this way: “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27. Death is certain, and the judgment will not be to determine the final disposition of the never dying soul, but position in it. But no one should ever come to that place with the mournful lament of himself, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been!” Jesus assures eternity in heavenly bliss for all who accept Him as their personal substitutionary payment for sins as noted in the very next verse in Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
It is extremely late on the cosmic clock as it notes the calendar year 2020. Do those numbers reference your foresight as well as the year? Are you saved? Are you actively serving God in a New Testament Church? Will you be one of the pitiable crowd who eternally mourns, “It might have been?”

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