Text of the Poem

A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
Made of a heart and cemented with tears;
         Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
         No workman's tool hath touch'd the same.
                  A HEART alone
                  Is such a stone,
                  As nothing but
                  Thy pow'r doth cut.
                  Wherefore each part
                  Of my hard heart
                  Meets in this frame
                  To praise thy name.
         That if I chance to hold my peace,
         These stones to praise thee may not cease.
Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.


  1. The attribution of human qualities to the stones of the altar, suggesting they can praise God, involves personification. This enhances the spiritual and reverent atmosphere of the poem.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The speaker prays that even if they were to remain silent, the stones of the altar would continue to praise God. This echoes the biblical idea that even the stones would cry out in praise if humans were silent.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The heart, described as a stone, is shaped by the power of God alone. This metaphor reinforces the idea of spiritual transformation and the dependence on God's grace for shaping the speaker's heart.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The brokenness of the altar signifies humility and contrition before God.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor