Old Times and Old Timers

A Cowboys Christmas Prayer — A Christmas Card from Don Bullis

Squire Omar Barker [1894-1985] was New Mexico’s own cowboy poet. He was born in a log cabin in Sapello Canyon, east of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.  He spent his youth herding cattle and hunting in the mountains of northern New Mexico. He served in the military during World War I …

and he graduated from New Mexico Highlands University [then called New Mexico Normal University] in 1924. He became a full-time writer in 1925 and in his career he wrote more than 1,200 articles, 2,500 poems and 1,500 stories. His most famous poem is “A Cowboy’s Christmas Prayer”. I hope this poem means as much to my readers as it means to me. I would only add the hope that our young people who are obliged to be away from home defending our country during this holiday season will soon return safely. I would also like to thank those of my readers who have taken the time to e-mail, write or telephone me over the past year, and those who have stopped by to visit when I was giving a talk. Hearing from you makes writing this column worthwhile.)



by S. Omar Barker

I  ain’t much good at prayin’, and You may not know me, Lord —
I ain’t much seen in churches where they preach Thy Holy Word,

But you may have observed me out here on the lonely plains,
A-lookin’ after cattle, feelin’ thankful when it rains,

Admirin’ Thy great handiwork, the miracle of grass,
Aware of Thy kind spirit in the way it comes to pass

That hired men on horseback and the livestock we tend
Can look up at the stars at night and know we’ve got a friend.

So here’s ol’ Christmas comin’ on, remindin’ us again
Of Him whose coming brought good will into the hearts of men.

A cowboy ain’t no preacher, Lord, but if You’ll hear my prayer,
I’ll ask as good as we have got for all men everywhere.

Don’t let no hearts be bitter, Lord. Don’t let no child be cold.
Make easy beds for them that’s sick and them that’s weak and old.

Let kindness bless the trail we ride, no matter what we’re after,
And sorter keep us on Your side, in tears as well as laughter.

I’ve seen ol’ cows a-starvin, and it ain’t no happy sight:
Please don’t leave no one hungry, Lord, on thy good Christmas night —

No man, no child, no woman, and no critter on four feet —
I’ll aim to do my best to help You find ‘em chuck to eat.

I’m just a sinful cowpoke, Lord—ain’t got no business prayin’ —
But still I hope You’ll ketch a word or two of what I’m sayin’:

We speak of Merry Christmas, Lord —I reckon you’ll agree
There ain’t no Merry Christmas for nobody that ain’t free.

So one thing more I’ll ask You, Lord: Just help us what you can
To save some seeds of freedom for the future sons of man.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to All!