A day in the vineyard

Daily Reading for December 15 • John Horden, Bishop and Missionary in Canada, 1893, and Robert McDonald, Priest, 1913

His day’s work amongst them was much as follows. At six in the morning he began with a service for the Eskimo, to which some came “dressed very much like working men in England,” in imported garments; others in the seal-skin clothing popular amongst them; and one woman in “an English gown, of which she seemed not a little proud.” The service was a mixture of worship and instruction, with as much singing as possible.

This over, the missionary went to breakfast. After breakfast came a service for the Indians, who were less eager than the Eskimo, although more advanced in knowledge.

When Horden had ended his lesson to the Indians he went to school himself—that is to say, he took a lesson from his Eskimo interpreter. This over, he began visiting the homes of his flock—seal-skin tents, and not the ice-houses of which we hear at other times. Then came a walk; then an other service with the Eskimo; then another with the Indians; an English service for the few Europeans at the station; another hour learning Eskimo; a half an hour’s social chat; and at last, “with feelings of thankfulness at having been placed as a labourer in the vineyard of the Lord, I retired to rest.” . . .

One other department of work, in which Horden made great strides during his first period of residence in Moosonee, remains to be noticed. Every wise missionary wishes his people as soon as possible to have the Bible, or at least some of it, in their own tongue. Horden was fully alive to this part of his duty, and from the first worked at translation. . . . To his great joy the ship one year brought out every requisite for a small printing-office. It was slow work, and so different from the means they had seen him use before, that some of the faithful Indians feared this new task had turned his brain. When the first eight pages were printed off, their delight was almost as great as his own. To the occupations of translator and printer Horden added that of a poet, with the result that, before he took his first holiday to England, he had given the Indians the Four Gospels, a prayer-book, and a hymn-book in the Cree language.

From John Horden, Missionary Bishop: A Life on the Shores of Hudson Bay by A. R. Buckland (London: The Sunday School Union, n.d.)

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