Morning Readings














Ned Bigelow reads from the Morning Readings. Click on the image to play the video
The following are selections from Eliot Putnam's morning assembly readings:

A Tall Gentleman

An English nobleman was coming to visit a Scottish home.

The master of the household, sending a servant to meet him, sought for some description by which the visitor might easily be recognized.

“When the train comes in," he said at last to the servant, “you will see a TALL GENTLEMAN HELPING SOMEBODY.”

That, in parable, is the Christian ideal.

Over these sixty generations one Figure has towered, from the fascination and dominance of whose personality mankind never can escape.

Height and helpfulness in him were perfectly combined.

And the world has come to recognize his spirit, living again on earth, whenever there appears spiritual attitude blending with lowly service – a tall gentleman, helping somebody.

By Harry Emerson Fosdick

The Cadet Prayer

O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of Men’s hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth.

May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural.

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish.

Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life.

Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.

Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.

Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life.

Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service.

Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer.

Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and our Country.

All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of men.



A Gentleman

A gentleman is a man who is clean inside and outside,

who never looks up to the rich or down to the poor,

who can lose without whimpering,

who can win without bragging,

who is considerate of all women,

children and old people – or those who are weaker

or less fortunate than he is;

a man who is too brave to lie,

too generous to cheat;

whose pride will not let him loaf,

and who insists on doing his share of work

in any capacity.

A man who thinks of his neighbor before himself,

and asks only to share equally with all men

the blessings that God has showered upon us.

Author Unknown

Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be though familiar, but by no means vulgar.
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledged comrade.
Beware of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgement.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3

 A man lacking self-respect is like a ship without a rudder – at the mercy of every storm besetting life’s course. He becomes a plaything for fate and tosses helplessly on a sea of emotions and impulses and is a slave of every temptation.

And self-respect can only be forged on the anvil of self-discipline – where principles are formed and tempered with the white heat of ambition and the chilling waters of reason – and mental and physical stamina are wrought with labor and sweat.

A man’s honor should be his most cherished possession, , once tarnished it can never again be wholly clean, once it is lost it can never again be regained in this life. To evade the truth by word or deed, to be unclean in thought or action, to be unfaithful in performance of duty; these are broad and easy ways to the destruction of honor. To uphold the truth, no matter what the cost, to be clean in mind and body, to be faithful to one’s trust; these are the sure and unfailing foundations of honor.

And it is well to remember that the keenest and most unsparing judges of one’s honor are one’s contemporaries.


What Is Our Definition Of Success?

Some think of success as the gaining of riches, power, position or fame. A man who strives for these things as objectives and fails to attain them is generally looked upon as a failure, and if these things form the goal of his ambition, he deserves to be a failure for his ambitions are wholly selfish.

It is the man who seeks to be of service to his fellowmen, who extends the hand of friendship to all who are suffering or in need, who relegates worldly belongings and position to their proper spheres of service, who is truly successful and who will be remembered by his fellowmen with affection.


Letter to Mrs. Bixby
(November 21, 1864)

Dear Madam,

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln


When Nobody’s Looking . . .

By Jerome Weidman

“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” –
Thomas Babington Macaulay

 Some 30 years ago, in a public school on New York’s lower East Side, a Mrs. Manette O’Neil gave an arithmetic test to her third grade class. When the papers were marked she discovered that 12 boys had written down the identical wrong answer to an arithmetic problem.

There is nothing particularly new about cribbing on exams. Perhaps that is why Mrs. O’Neil did not even mention it. She merely asked the 12 boys to remain after the dismissal bell.

They did – with fear in their hearts. For they knew why Mrs. O’Neil wanted to see them after class. And they were right, but only in part.

Mrs. O’Neil asked no questions. She made no accusations. She parceled out no punishment.

As soon as she was alone with the guilty youngsters, Mrs. O’Neil wrote on the blackboard 21 words, together with the name of the great man who had composed them. The third-grade teacher then ordered her pupils to copy these words into their notebooks 100 times.

I don’t know about the other 11 boys. Speaking for the only one of the dozen with whom I am on intimate terms I can say this without hesitation: It was the most important single lesson of my life.

Few of us are asked to make the great decisions about committing nations or armies to battle. But all of us are called upon daily to make a host of purely personal decisions. Shall the contents of this wallet, found in the street, be pocketed or turned over to the police? Shall this order, which was intended for a rival be allowed to register its accidental addition to your sales quota?

Nobody will ever know. Nobody except you. But you have to live with yourself. And it is always better to live with someone you respect – because respect breeds confidence.


The Last Words Of Captain Scott
(To Sir J.M. Barrie)

My Dear Barrie,

We are pegging it out in a very comfortless spot. Hoping this letter may be found and sent to you, I write a word of farewell. We are showing that Englishmen can still die with a bold spirit, fighting it out to the end. It will be known that we have accomplished our object in reaching the Pole, and that we have done everything possible, even to sacrificing ourselves in order to save sick companions. Goodbye. I am not at all afraid of the end, but sad to miss many a humble pleasure which I had planned for the future on our long marches. I may not have proved a great explorer, but we have done the greatest march ever made and come near to great success. Goodbye, my dear friend,

Yours ever,

R. Scott

Later (in the same note) – We are very near the end, but have not and will not lose our good cheer. We have had four days of storm in our tent, and nowhere’s food or fuel. We did intend to finish ourselves when things proved like this, but we have decided to die naturally in the track.


Religion In The School

L.J. Jacks
Contemporary English Philosopher

Not long ago I met one of our great schoolmasters – a veteran in that high service. “Where in your timetable do you teach religion?” I asked him. “We teach it all day long,” he answered. “We teach it in arithmetic, by accuracy. We teach it in language, by learning to say what we mean – ‘yea, yea and nay, nay!’  We teach it in history, by humanity. We teach it in geography, by the breadth of mind. We teach it in handicraft, by thoroughness. We teach it in the playground, by fair play. We teach it in kindness to animals, by courtesy to servants, by good manners to one another, and by truthfulness in all things. We teach it by showing the children that we, their elders, are their friends and not their enemies.” Do you talk much to them about religion?” I then asked. “Not much” he said, “just enough to bring the whole thing to a point now and then.” Finally he added a remark that struck me – “I do not want religion,” he said, “brought into this school from outside. What we have of it we grow ourselves.”


Casey At The Bat

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 pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the 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 hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, 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 five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty 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 lit 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 flashed 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;
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted someone on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him 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 dun sphere 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 clenched 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 favoured 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.


If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
                                                                                                            RUDYARD KIPLING
It little profits that an idle king, 
By this still hearth, among these barren crags, 
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole 
Unequal laws unto a savage race, 
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd 
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those 
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when 
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades 
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; 
For always roaming with a hungry heart 
Much have I seen and known; cities of men 
And manners, climates, councils, governments, 
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all; 
And drunk delight of battle with my peers, 
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy. 
I am a part of all that I have met; 
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro' 
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades 
For ever and forever when I move. 
How dull it is to pause, to make an end, 
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use! 
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life 
Were all too little, and of one to me 
Little remains: but every hour is saved 
From that eternal silence, something more, 
A bringer of new things; and vile it were 
For some three suns to store and hoard myself, 
And this gray spirit yearning in desire 
To follow knowledge like a sinking star, 
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 
 This is my son, mine own Telemachus, 
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,— 
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil 
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild 
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees 
Subdue them to the useful and the good. 
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere 
Of common duties, decent not to fail 
In offices of tenderness, and pay 
Meet adoration to my household gods, 
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine. 
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail: 
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners, 
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me— 
That ever with a frolic welcome took 
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed 
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old; 
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; 
Death closes all: but something ere the end, 
Some work of noble note, may yet be done, 
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods. 
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: 
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep 
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends, 
'T is not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: 
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew. 
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' 
We are not now that strength which in old days 
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; 
One equal temper of heroic hearts, 
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will 
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
                                                                           ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON



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