Mrs. Eddy’s Gift for the New Year

  • Stacy Teicher Khadaroo

When The Christian Science Journal for January 1896 arrived in subscribers’ homes, readers discovered a special gift between its covers – a pair of brief poems from Mary Baker Eddy written especially for children. Later, Mrs. Eddy revised and published these gems in two of her books, and for well over a century now they’ve brought comfort and healing to people of all ages.

The original version of Mary Baker Eddy’s poetic gifts to children appeared in The Christian Science Journal of January 1896.

The very first item in that issue of the Journal was titled, “A Verse”:

Mother’s New Year Gift to the Little Children.

Father, Mother, God,
Loving me—
Guard me when I sleep,
Guide my little feet
Up to Thee.

To the Big Children.

Father, Mother, Good, lovingly
Thee I’ll seek—
Patient, meek,
In the narrow path—
All the way Thou hath
Up to Thee.

Readers’ appreciation for the poems – and news of subsequent healings they spurred – began appearing in the Journal in the months that followed.

One account tells of a little boy who had been thrown to the ground when lightning struck a nearby tree. Though dazed, he was able to get safely back inside.

“The idea that ‘All is Mind’ came to the child simultaneously with the shock,” wrote a Sunday School teacher who knew the lad. “Then he said, ‘While I was lying there on the ground, I thought of my little piece.’ The little piece referred to is the verse, ‘Mother’s New Year Gift to the Little Children,’ . . . He felt no bad effects from the shock; which proves that Truth is as quick as the lightning, and all powerful.”1

This plaque, with the verse for little children published in Miscellaneous Writings, was created in 1931 by the Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker Eddy. Longyear Museum Collection.

When a three-year-old girl’s foot seemed badly injured by a rocking chair, “the little one although crying with pain, refused to have the stocking taken off, or the foot ‘looked at for error.’ [She fell asleep, and] when she waked up, she jumped down and began to run around saying ‘See! my foot is all well, I said “Father, Mother, God, Loving me, Guard me when I sleep, Guide my little feet up to Thee,” and He did!’”2

Adults included themselves among the “children” who could turn to their Father-Mother God with these poetic prayers. One wrote of memorizing the verse for the big children: “Many an evil thought which tried to gain possession of me has been destroyed, with the first two lines, much of pride, jealousy, self-righteousness and irritability have gone down under the thought of patience and meekness, which guarded the path, and cleared the way.”3

The year leading up to this gift included several events in which children were central to Mrs. Eddy’s thoughts and endeavors.

On January 6, 1895, the dedication of the Original Edifice of The Mother Church included a special service for children. Among them were many of the Busy Bees, whose fundraising efforts helped build and furnish the Mother’s Room, a quiet spot set apart for Mrs. Eddy’s use.4

Two special services for children were held in the Original Edifice of The Mother Church in Boston in 1895 – one when it was dedicated in January (right) and the other on Easter Sunday (left). Longyear Museum Collection.

On April 1, Mrs. Eddy made her first visit (a private one) to the Church and to this special room.5 On May 26, after spending the previous night in the Mother’s Room, she delivered her first address in the Church.6

Easter Sunday fell on April 14 that year, in between those visits. The Mother Church offered a special children’s service at Mrs. Eddy’s direction, based on Matthew 28.7

Mary Baker Eddy in her carriage at Pleasant View, circa 1896. Longyear Museum Collection.

In the fall, she took a decisive step to provide for children’s spiritual education. Up to that point, Sunday School lessons had been offered for both children and adults. Now, Sunday Schools would be reorganized for youths, Mrs. Eddy wrote in the October Journal.8

The first lessons would include the Ten Commandments; the Sermon on the Mount; and the Lord’s Prayer and its Spiritual Interpretation from the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. “The instruction of the children’s teachers must not deviate from the absolute Christian Science contained in their textbook,” Mrs. Eddy wrote.9

By the end of October, her love for children had taken form in this pair of verses, intended for publication in January as a New Year gift. Mrs. Eddy went on to publish revised versions of both poems in Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 and in Poems. 11  These are the verses most familiar today. The little children’s verse changed only in punctuation, but for the big children, the words became: Father-Mother good, lovingly/ Thee I seek,–/ Patient, meek/ In the way Thou hast,–/ Be it slow or fast,/ Up to Thee.

In 1904, Mrs. Eddy directed that the verses be printed on 1,000 cards, one of four designs she asked to be created and sent to the children of The Mother Church Sunday School, who had been contributing to the building of the Extension that year.12 

Minnie Weygandt, who worked at Mary Baker Eddy’s Pleasant View home in Concord, New Hampshire, saved the pretty card that Mrs. Eddy had printed in 1904 with the New Year verses inside. Courtesy The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

“Have these cards gotten up with pretty designs and have my copyright mark on them all,” she wrote that November to Joseph Armstrong, publisher of her writings and a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors.13

Just a few years later, Mrs. Eddy also gave permission for the poems to appear in The Children’s Star Magazine, founded and edited by one of her students, Elizabeth Wickersham.14

Elizabeth Wickersham, a student of Mary Baker Eddy’s, received permission in 1907 to publish her teacher’s verses in The Children’s Star Magazine. Longyear Museum Collection.

Many of Mrs. Eddy’s writings frame the start of each year as a fresh opportunity to grow closer to God, to seek His guidance with childlike expectancy. To ring in 1890, Mrs. Eddy ended a letter to Mrs. Wickersham and her husband with a question and a benediction for the New Year: “Have you been growing away from the false sense and false habitation of the flesh? Oh may our Father guide you by His testimony, spiritual Love, and every year perfect your lives and make you lights set upon a hill that cannot be hid.”14


  1. The Christian Science Journal 14 (December 1896): 454. The Sunday School teacher who related this healing was Sarah Farlow, sister of Alfred Farlow and a fellow Christian Science practitioner and teacher.
  2. The Christian Science Journal 14 (July 1896): 199.
  3. The Christian Science Journal 14 (January 1897): 511.
  4. Maurine Campbell, “The Story of the Busy Bees: An Account of Pioneer Experiences in Christian Science,” 69, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, Massachusetts, hereafter referenced as MBEL.
  5. The Christian Science Journal 13 (May 1895): 45.
  6. Later she would instruct church members to stop calling her Mother, because although the term was simply endearing, it was often misunderstood (see page 64 of the Manual of The Mother Church); she would also direct that the Mother’s Room not be open to visitors (69).
  7. The Christian Science Journal 13 (May 1895): 47. In addition to the Bible reading, the service included a paragraph from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures about how Jesus’ work in the sepulchre “proved Life to be deathless, and Love to be the master of hate” (page 349 from editions at that time).
  8. Mary Baker Eddy, “What We Can Do for the Children,” The Christian Science Journal 13 (October 1895): 268. For more on the evolution of the Sunday School, which first limited the age of students to 15 and later expanded that to 20, see “The Development of Christian Science Sunday School,” May 15, 2011, MBEL.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Judge Septimus J. Hanna’s handwriting, with corrections in Mrs. Eddy’s handwriting, crossing out Oct. 31, 1895 and replacing it with January 1st, 1896. Words matching what would later appear in the Jan. 1896 Christian Science Journal, Document A10820, MBEL.
  11. Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, 400; Poems, 69.
  12. “A Christmas Gift from Mary Baker Eddy,” December 1, 2014, MBEL.
  13. Mary Baker Eddy to Joseph Armstrong, November 9, 1904, L02981, MBEL. The full note reads: “Please have 1000 cards printed with The Lord’s Prayer and its spiritual Interpretation, 1000 cards with the XXIII Psalm as found on page 578 of our text book, and ‘Mother’s New Year Gift to the little children’ and ‘To the Big Children’ as found on page 400 of ‘Miscellaneous Writings’ each 1000.  Have these cards gotten up with pretty designs and have my copyright mark on them all. Please give this order your immediate attention and send me proofs of them before going to press with them.” For more on the context of sending the cards to the Sunday School children, see “A Christmas Gift from Mary Baker Eddy,” December 1, 2014, MBEL
  14. The Children’s Star Magazine, November 1907, The Children’s Star Publishing Company, Washington, D.C.
  15. Mary Baker Eddy to Elizabeth C. Wickersham and George B. Wickersham, January 4, 1890, L07925, MBEL.