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Several famous people were asked what they felt was the saddest word in the English language. Here’s what some of them said.

  • Poet T. S. Eliot: “The saddest word in the English language is, of course, ‘saddest.’”
  • Lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II: “But.”
  • Writer John Dos Passos quoted John Keats: “Forlorn! the very word is like a bell.”
  • Psychiatrist Karl Menninger: “Unloved.”
  • Statesman Bernard M. Baruch: “Hopeless.”
  • President Harry Truman quoted John Greenleaf Whittier: “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’”
  • Alexandra Tolstoi: “The saddest word in all languages, which has brought the world to its present condition, is ‘atheism.’”

Put all of these answers together and you have a faint picture of a soul without Christ. I think of that word which Keats used so dramatically, “forlorn.” It is the English form of the Dutch word verloren, which means “lost.” But the Word of God, through the apostle Paul, gives the ultimate description, “...without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

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