Introduction to Miss Barber's Poems

M. E. Barber’s “song-messages”

M. E. Barber’s ministry is most widely appreciated today through her numerous hymns. She was not a prodigious writer, like Charles Wesley or Fanny Crosby, producing thousands of hymns, but her 54 poems that we have today potently distill her experiences. To her, these were “song-messages”, and they were the very messages the Lord had whispered to comfort and sustain her. Today, they still inspire, encourage, challenge, and elevate us.

Watchman Nee’s short hymnal published in 1931 gives us some indication regarding which of her hymns were sung during her lifetime; Eleven of her poems were included in that volume. Several current hymnals include around 20. In total, 54 poems were published during or shortly after her lifetime. Most are appropriate for singing, while some are best when simply read and reflected upon.

Where to start?

For one unacquainted with M. E. Barber’s hymns, these three are perhaps her finest and most accessible:

M. E. Barber’s Hymns and Poems

All Hymns and Poems in Alphabetical Order

All 54 of M. E. Barbers hymns and poems are collected on the page above. Below they are broken down into three categories 1) Hymns, 2) Poems & 3) Poems which could become a hymn.

  1. Hymns of M. E. Barber

    23 of her poems (plus two adaptations) can be sung as hymns. These are categorized separately from her other poems which have not been set to tune.

  2. Poems of M. E. Barber

    32 of her poems have not been set to music. These are precious and thought provoking.

  3. Poems which could become a hymn

    Of these 32 poems, 14 are written in good meter and could be set to music.

  4. Categories of Poems

The Verses of a Pilgrim

Shortly after her death, 42 of Miss Barber’s poems were published by one of her nieces in this volume. This article reproduces the foreword and the table of contents of Verses of a Pilgrim. This volume also includes many titles and inscriptions of Bible verses which are not preserved in modern publications. Often these verse references show much of how a poem sprang up out of an insight she had into a single verse.

What was sung in her life time?

The 1931 hymnal Hymns for the Little Flock, compiled by Watchman Nee gives us an indication of which of her poems were commonly sung among various churches connected to her ministry. Eleven of her poems were included in the hymnal and most of these ten are still commonly sung among churches that are influenced by Watchman Nee.

Beyond these eleven, it is likely that others had also been set to tunes and were sung as hymns during meetings at White Teeth Rock, or among the village churches her co-workers had raised up.

Where can they be sung today?

Today, her hymns can be found in several hymnals including Songs and Hymns of Life, Christ in Song and Hymns. They can be sung with tunes at

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