Vespers for these times… July 12, 2020


Hark the Vesper bell is pealing,

O’er the meadow, soft and green.

Nearer now and nearer stealing,

Soft it breaks upon my ear.

Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen. Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.


First words:   We are now in the thick of it….summer, that is!  July 12.   Almost halfway through July.  How could it be?  Summer is a miraculous time, full of growing things at the garden, in the forests, the pond, all around the lodge and the cabins.  Today we will celebrate mid-July!  A celebration in poetry, words and song about this warmest of all seasons.

SING:  “The Earth is Good to Me”—modification of Walt Disney’s song in “Johnny Appleseed”.

The earth is good to me, 

And so I thank the earth.

For giving me the things I need,

The sun and the rain and the apple seed,

The earth is good to me.

First Summer Poem: “It’s Hot”, by Shel Silverstein

We hear this poem as morning inspiration in the lodge, particularly after a long hot spell in camp.  There always are a few hot spells, even on our hillside in Vermont.  Last week was one of the first of the season.  It’s time to hear the poem!   Do you remember it?

It’s HOT!

I can’t get cool,

I’ve drunk a quart of lemonade.

I think I’ll take my shoes off

And sit around in the shade.

It’s HOT!

My back is sticky.

The sweat rolls down my chin.

I think I”ll take my clothes off

And sit around in my skin.

It’s HOT!

I’ve tried with ‘lectric fans,

And pools and ice cream cones.

I think I”ll take my skin off

And sit around in my bones.


SING: “Swimming, swimming”.  An old camp song!  One to sing with to cool off, your mind flooded with images of the camp pond, the “walk-on-water” mat, the slide, the floating dock.  And yes…Jeffrey the Turtle!  Hasn’t been seen this season!

Swimming, swimming, in the swimming pool.

The days are hot, the days are cool,

In the swimming pool.

Breast stroke, side stroke, 

Fancy diving, too.

Don’t you wish you didn’t have..

Anything else to do, BUT…

Repeat until you feel you’ve sung it enough to cool off!

A Second Poem: “Casey At the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

At this writing, it is Saturday morning.  BC staff softball players would be chowing down on cafeteria-breakfast donuts in order to have full energy for the SangaCox weekly staff softball game!  Inspiration would probably be this poem, if it were the very first staff ball game of the season.  Eager campers would use the story to get psyched for the stroll through the Sangamon horse pasture to the game, to their Sangamon friends, and to the delights of the summer baseball season at camp!

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;

The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,

A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.  The rest

Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast’

They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that—

We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,

And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;

So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,

For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,

And Blake, the much despied, tore the cover off the ball;

And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,

There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;

It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;

It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,

For Casey, might Casey, was advancing to the bat. 

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;

There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.

And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat, 

No stranger in the crowd could doubt ‘twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt’

Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.

Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,

Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,

And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.

Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—

“That ain’t my style, “ said Casey.  “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,

Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.

Fraud!  Fraud! Shouted someone on the stand;

And it’s likely the ump would be retired had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;

He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;

He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;

But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and the echo answered fraud;

But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.

They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain

And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;

He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,

And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.


(After the game, a free swim, a fantastic lunch, it’d be time for singing before announcement time.  Remember these dining room songs?)

I Am Slowly Going Crazy

I am slowly going crazy, one, two, three, four, five, six switch.

Crazy going slowly am I, six, five, four, three, two, one switch!

*Sing faster and faster until your tongue can’t keep up with your brain!  

Three Heffalumps

Three Heffalumps went out to play.

All on a lovely summer’s day.

They had such enormous fun

That they called on another heffalump to come!

*Sing as many times as you can!

Prune Song

No matter how young a prune may be,

It’s always full of wrinkles.

A baby prune is like her dad, 

But she’s not wrinkled half so bad.

I’ve got wrinkles on my face…

Pruny wrinkles EVERY place!

NO matter how young a prune may be,

It’s always full of wrinkles.

Same song, second verse…a little bit louder and a little bit worse!

*Repeat until Lorrie can’t stand it any more!!  


Poem:  ‘The Tuft of Flowers”, by Robert Frost.

It wouldn’t be proper to have a Vespers about poetry and song without including a poem by Robert Frost.  While Frost lived in a couple New England states, we Vermonters KNOW, without any shadow of doubt, that he was a Vermonter.  After all, you can still visit his cabin in Ripton, Vermont on hike day!  

This poem is about two Vermont farmers connecting around a small bunch of flowers.  It’s a reminder about the importance of both building and celebrating connections between people!

The Tuft of Flowers

I went to turn the grass once after one

Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen

Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;

I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,

And I must be, as he had been, —alone,

‘As all must be,’ I said within my heart,

‘Whether they work together or apart.’

But as I said it, swift there passed me by

On noiseless wing a ‘wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night

Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,

As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,

And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,

And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look 

At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared

Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,

Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved the thus,

By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.

But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,

Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,

And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;

So that henceforth I worked no more along;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,

And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech

With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

‘Men work together,’ I told him from the heart,

‘Whether they work together or apart.’


Sing: “White Coral Bells”a camp round about another beautiful flower, Lily of the Valley

White coral bells upon a slender stalk.

Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.

Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring

That will happen only when the fairies sing.


Poem:  “This Summer Day” by Barbara Crooker

Perhaps, like many other camp people, the camp garden is a favorite place to spend time.  This summer’s camp garden was planted before the decision to close camp for the season had to be made.  Now, thanks to the work of a few camp people (Emma P. Abby P., Mary-Ann E., Piper C.,, Elly M., Cameron, Lorrie, and a day’s visit from Georgia K.), the garden is producing food!  Because we are not here, the food will be harvested for the residents of Pittsford who visit the Pittsford Food Shelf.  It feels so good to contribute to our community in this way!  Barbara Crooker’s poem is a fun one about gardens!

Imagine yourself at ours!


That sprinkler is at it again,

hissing and spitting its arc

of silver, and the parched

lawn is tickled green.  The air

hums with the busy traffic

of butterflies and bees,

who navigate without lane

markers, stop signs, directional

signals.  One of my friends 

says we’re now in the shady 

side of the garden, having moved

past pollination, fruition, 

and all that bee-buzzed jazz,

into our autumn days.  But I say wait.

It’s still summer, and the breeze is full

of sweetness spilled from a million petals;

it wraps around your arms, lifts the hair

from the back of your neck.

The salvia, coreopsis, roses

have set the borders on fire,

and the peaches waiting to be picked

are heavy with juice.  We are still ripening

into our bodies, still in the act of becoming.

Rejoice in the day’s long sugar.

Praise that big fat tomato of a sun.


Sing: “Garden Song”, by Dave Mallett

Inch by inch, row by row

Gonna make this garden grow.

All you need is a rake and a hoe

And a piece of fertile ground.

Inch by inch, row by row

Someone bless these seeds I sow.

Someone warm them from below 

‘Til the rains come tumbling down.

Pulling weeds and picking stones.

We are made of dreams and bones.

Need a place to call my own for the time is near at hand.

Grain for grain, sun and rain.

Find my way thru nature’s chain.

Tune my body and my brain to the music of the land.

Plant your rows straight and long.

Temper them with prayer and song.

Mother earth will make you strong if you give her love and care.

An old crow watching hungrily

From his perch in yonder tree.

In my garden I’m as free as that feathered thief up there.

Poem: The Reason I Like Chocolate” by Nikki Giovanni

One last poem  and a recipe!  While at first viewing this poem is all about chocolate, read carefully ‘til the poem is finished.  At the end of the day, and at the end of this Vespers, we have a wish for each other this summer’s day.  And that is that we find and carefully nurture happiness—for ourselves and each other.  While camp is one of very best places to do that, each of us can search…and do…and nurture…where ever we are.

The reason I like chocolate

is I can lick my fingers

and nobody tells me I’m not polite.

I especially like scary movies

‘cause I can snuggle with Mommy

or my big sister and they don’t laugh

I like to cry sometimes ‘cause

everybody says “what’s the matter

don’t cry”

And I like books

for all those reasons

but mostly ‘cause they just make me happy

And I really like to be happy.


Sing:  “One Bottle Top”, song rewritten in celebration of chocolate!

One chocolate chip,

Two chocolate chips,

Three chocolate chips,


Five chocolate chips, 

Six chocolate chips,

Seven chocolate chips


Don’t think of taking my cookie,

My cookie, my cookie.

Don’t think of taking my cookie.

That one is MINE!

Chocolate chips and ice cold milk,

Ice cold milk

Ice cold milk

Chocolate chips and ice cold milk.

Ice cold milk’s great!

A Recipe: Finishing off with the chocolate theme, here is a very special treat for each of you.  It is Don Willis’s camp chocolate chip cookie recipe!  Generations of staff, on Don’s Saturday night lodge duty, have wolfed down piles of these treats.  And now…each of you can create your own even without being staff.  What a fitting way to add to your happiness where ever you are!


1 cup of butter  (can use butter flavor Crisco sticks if you are lactose intolerant or want them to taste just like Don’s)

¾ cup white sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla


2 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

As many chocolate chips as you want!

Bake at 375 for a few minutes -about 12 or…until they look done to you!

Enjoy them!

On that note:  We have a few beautiful end-of-day songs.  Let’s sing one favorite, “Gone to Bed is the Setting Sun.  Teach this round to those you are with today.

Gone to bed is the setting sun.

Night is falling and day is done.

Whippoorwill, whippoorwill has just begun


Final Thought:

Poetry.  “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” -Carl Sandburg

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”  -Ella Fitzgerald



Jubilate, Jubilate, jubilate, Amen. Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.


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