Sunday dawned in San Francisco; Sunday in the camp of the refugees. On a green knoll in Golden Gate Park, between the conservatory and the tennis courts, a white-haired minister of the Gospel gathered his flock. It was the Sabbath day and in the turmoil and confusion the minister did not forget his duty. Two upright stakes and a cross-piece gave him a rude pulpit, and beside him stood a young man with a battered brass cornet. Far over the park stole a melody that drew hundreds of men and women from their tents. Of all denominations and all creeds, they gathered on that green knoll, and the men uncovered while the solemn voice repeated the words of a grand old hymn, known wherever men and women meet to worship the Lord:
“Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee; Leave, oh, leave me not alone, still support and comfort me!”
A moment before there had been shouting and confusion in the driveway where some red-striped artillerymen were herding a squad of gesticulating Chinamen as men herd sheep. The shouting died away as the minister’s voice rose and fell and out of the stillness came the sobs of women. One little woman in blue was making no sound, but the tears were streaming down her cheeks. Her husband, a sturdy young fellow in his shirt sleeves, put his arm about her shoulders and tried to comfort her as the reading went on.
“All my trust on Thee is stayed; all my help from Thee I bring; Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.”
Then the cornet took up the air again and those helpless persons followed it in quivering tones, the white-haired man of God leading them with closed eyes. When the last verse was over, the minister raised his hands.
“Let us pray,” said he, and his congregation sank down in the grass before him. It was a simple prayer, such a prayer as might be offered by a man without a home or a shelter over his head—and nothing left to him but an unshaken faith in his Creator.
“Oh, Lord, Thy ways are past finding out, but we still have faith in Thee. We know not why Thou hast visited these people and left them homeless. Thou knowest the reason of this desolation and of our utter helplessness. We call on Thee for help in the hour of our great need. Bless the people of this city, the sorrowing ones, the bereaved, gather them under Thy mighty wing and soothe aching hearts this day.”
The women were crying again, and one big man dug his knuckles into his eyes without shame. The man who could have listened to such a prayer unmoved was not in Golden Gate Park that day.
The Frightful Loss of Life and Wealth.