The Christian Year
Rev. John Keble
Part 4 out of 5
'Mid withered hues and sere, its lot be cast:
That is the heart for thoughtful seer,
Watching, in trance nor dark nor clear,
Th' appalling Future as it nearer draws:
His spirit calmed the storm to meet,
Feeling the rock beneath his feet,
And tracing through the cloud th' eternal Cause.
That is the heart for watchman true
Waiting to see what GOD will do,
As o'er the Church the gathering twilight falls
No more he strains his wistful eye,
If chance the golden hours be nigh,
By youthful Hope seen beaming round her walls.
Forced from his shadowy paradise,
His thoughts to Heaven the steadier rise:
There seek his answer when the world reproves:
Contented in his darkling round,
If only he be faithful found,
When from the east the eternal morning moves.
Note: The expression, "calm delay," is borrowed from a friend, by
whose kind permission the following stanzas are here inserted.
TO THE RED-BREAST.
Unheard in summer's flaring ray,
Pour forth thy notes, sweet singer,
Wooing the stillness of the autumn day:
Bid it a moment linger,
Too soon from winter's scowling eye.
The blackbird's song at even-tide,
And hers, who gay ascends,
Filling the heavens far and wide,
Are sweet. But none so blends,
With calm decay, and peace divine.
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?
Matthew xviii. 21.
What liberty so glad and gay,
As where the mountain boy,
Reckless of regions far away,
A prisoner lives in joy?
The dreary sounds of crowded earth,
The cries of camp or town,
Never untuned his lonely mirth,
Nor drew his visions down.
The snow-clad peaks of rosy light
That meet his morning view,
The thwarting cliffs that bound his sight,
They bound his fancy too.
Two ways alone his roving eye
For aye may onward go,
Or in the azure deep on high,
Or darksome mere below.
O blest restraint! more blessed range!
Too soon the happy child
His nook of homely thought will change
For life's seducing wild:
Too soon his altered day-dreams show
This earth a boundless space,
With sun-bright pleasures to and fro
Sporting in joyous race:
While of his narrowing heart each year,
Heaven less and less will fill,
Less keenly, thorough his grosser ear,
The tones of mercy thrill.
It must be so: else wherefore falls
The Saviour's voice unheard,
While from His pard'ning Cross He calls,
"O spare as I have spared?"
By our own niggard rule we try
The hope to suppliants given!
We mete out love, as if our eye
Saw to the end of Heaven.
Yes, ransomed sinner! wouldst thou know
How often to forgive,
How dearly to embrace thy foe,
Look where thou hop'st to live; -
When thou hast told those isles of light,
And fancied all beyond,
Whatever owns, in depth or height,
Creation's wondrous bond;
Then in their solemn pageant learn
Sweet mercy's praise to see:
Their Lord resigned them all, to earn
The bliss of pardoning thee.
TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto
His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even
to subdue all things onto Himself. Philippians iii. 21.
Red o'er the forest peers the setting sun,
The line of yellow light dies fast away
That crowned the eastern copse: and chill and dun
Falls on the moor the brief November day.
Now the tired hunter winds a parting note,
And Echo hide good-night from every glade;
Yet wait awhile, and see the calm heaves float
Each to his rest beneath their parent shade.
How like decaying life they seem to glide!
And yet no second spring have they in store,
But where they fall, forgotten to abide
Is all their portion, and they ask no more.
Soon o'er their heads blithe April airs shall sing,
A thousand wild-flowers round them shall unfold,
The green buds glisten in the dews of Spring,
And all be vernal rapture as of old.
Unconscious they in waste oblivion lie,
In all the world of busy life around
No thought of them; in all the bounteous sky,
No drop, for them, of kindly influence found.
Man's portion is to die and rise again -
Yet he complains, while these unmurmuring part
With their sweet lives, as pure from sin and stain,
As his when Eden held his virgin heart.
And haply half unblamed his murmuring voice
Might sound in Heaven, were all his second life
Only the first renewed--the heathen's choice,
A round of listless joy and weary strife.
For dreary were this earth, if earth were all,
Tho' brightened oft by dear Affection's kiss; -
Who for the spangles wears the funeral pall?
But catch a gleam beyond it, and 'tis bliss.
Heavy and dull this frame of limbs and heart,
Whether slow creeping on cold earth, or borne
On lofty steed, or loftier prow, we dart
O'er wave or field: yet breezes laugh to scorn
Our puny speed, and birds, and clouds in heaven,
And fish, living shafts that pierce the main,
And stars that shoot through freezing air at even -
Who but would follow, might he break his chain?
And thou shalt break it soon; the grovelling worm
Shall find his wings, and soar as fast and free
As his transfigured Lord with lightning form
And snowy vest--such grace He won for thee,
When from the grave He sprang at dawn of morn,
And led through boundless air thy conquering road,
Leaving a glorious track, where saints, new-born,
Might fearless follow to their blest abode.
But first, by many a stern and fiery blast
The world's rude furnace must thy blood refine,
And many a gale of keenest woe be passed,
Till every pulse beat true to airs divine,
Till every limb obey the mounting soul,
The mounting soul, the call by Jesus given.
He who the stormy heart can so control,
The laggard body soon will waft to Heaven.
TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The heart knoweth his own bitterness: and a stranger doth not
intermeddle with his joy. Proverbs xiv. 10.
Why should we faint and fear to live alone,
Since all alone, so Heaven has willed, we die,
Nor e'en the tenderest heart, and next our own,
Knows half the reasons why we smile and sigh?
Each in his hidden sphere of joy or woe
Our hermit spirits dwell, and range apart,
Our eyes see all around in gloom or glow -
Hues of their own, fresh borrowed from the heart.
And well it is for us our GOD should feel
Alone our secret throbbings: so our prayer
May readier spring to Heaven, nor spend its zeal
On cloud-born idols of this lower air.
For if one heart in perfect sympathy
Beat with another, answering love for love,
Weak mortals, all entranced, on earth would lie,
Nor listen for those purer strains above.
Or what if Heaven for once its searching light
Lent to some partial eye, disclosing all
The rude bad thoughts, that in our bosom's night
Wander at large, nor heed Love's gentle thrall?
Who would not shun the dreary uncouth place?
As if, fond leaning where her infant slept,
A mother's arm a serpent should embrace:
So might we friendless live, and die unwept.
Then keep the softening veil in mercy drawn,
Thou who canst love us, thro' Thou read us true;
As on the bosom of th' aerial lawn
Melts in dim haze each coarse ungentle hue.
So too may soothing Hope Thy heave enjoy
Sweet visions of long-severed hearts to frame:
Though absence may impair, or cares annoy,
Some constant mind may draw us still the same.
We in dark dreams are tossing to and fro,
Pine with regret, or sicken with despair,
The while she bathes us in her own chaste glow,
And with our memory wings her own fond prayer.
O bliss of child-like innocence, and love
Tried to old age! creative power to win,
And raise new worlds, where happy fancies rove,
Forgetting quite this grosser world of sin.
Bright are their dreams, because their thoughts are clear,
Their memory cheering: but th' earth-stained spright,
Whose wakeful musings are of guilt and fear,
Must hover nearer earth, and less in light.
Farewell, for her, th' ideal scenes so fair -
Yet not farewell her hope, since thou hast deigned,
Creator of all hearts! to own and share
The woe of what Thou mad'st, and we have stained.
Thou knowst our bitterness--our joys are Thine -
No stranger Thou to all our wanderings wild:
Nor could we bear to think, how every line
Of us, Thy darkened likeness and defiled,
Stands in full sunshine of Thy piercing eye,
But that Thou call'st us Brethren: sweet repose
Is in that word--the LORD who dwells on high
Knows all, yet loves us better than He knows.
TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of
righteousness. Proverbs xvi. 31.
The bright-haired morn is glowing
O'er emerald meadows gay,
With many a clear gem strewing
The early shepherd's way.
Ye gentle elves, by Fancy seen
Stealing away with night
To slumber in your leafy screen,
Tread more than airy light.
And see what joyous greeting
The sun through heaven has shed,
Though fast yon shower be fleeting,
His beams have faster sped.
For lo! above the western haze
High towers the rainbow arch
In solid span of purest rays:
How stately is its march!
Pride of the dewy morning!
The swain's experienced eye
From thee takes timely warning,
Nor trusts the gorgeous sky.
For well he knows, such dawnings gay
Bring noons of storm and shower,
And travellers linger on the way
Beside the sheltering bower.
E'en so, in hope and trembling
Should watchful shepherd view
His little lambs assembling,
With glance both kind and true;
'Tis not the eye of keenest blaze,
Nor the quick-swelling breast,
That soonest thrills at touch of praise -
These do not please him best.
But voices low and gentle,
And timid glances shy,
That seem for aid parental
To sue all wistfully,
Still pressing, longing to be right,
Yet fearing to be wrong, -
In these the Pastor dares delight,
A lamb-like, Christ-like throng.
These in Life's distant even
Shall shine serenely bright,
As in th' autumnal heaven
Mild rainbow tints at night,
When the last shower is stealing down,
And ere they sink to rest,
The sun-beams weave a parting crown
For some sweet woodland nest.
The promise of the morrow
Is glorious on that eve,
Dear as the holy sorrow
When good men cease to live.
When brightening ere it die away
Mounts up their altar flame,
Still tending with intenser ray
To Heaven whence first it came.
Say not it dies, that glory,
'Tis caught unquenched on high,
Those saintlike brows so hoary
Shall wear it in the sky.
No smile is like the smile of death,
When all good musings past
Rise wafted with the parting breath,
The sweetest thought the last.
SUNDAY NEXT BEFORE ADVENT
Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. St.
John vi. 12.
Will God indeed with fragments bear,
Snatched late from the decaying year?
Or can the Saviour's blood endear
The dregs of a polluted life?
When down th' o'erwhelming current tossed
Just ere he sink for ever lost,
The sailor's untried arms are crossed
In agonizing prayer, will Ocean cease her strife?
Sighs that exhaust but not relieve
Heart-rending sighs, O spare to heave
A bosom freshly taught to grieve
For lavished hours and love misspent!
Now through her round of holy thought
The Church our annual steps has brought,
But we no holy fire have caught -
Back on the gaudy world our wilful eyes were bent.
Too soon th' ennobling carols, poured
To hymn the birth-night of the LORD,
Which duteous Memory should have stored
For thankful echoing all the year -
Too soon those airs have passed away;
Nor long within the heart would stay
The silence of CHRIST'S dying day,
Profaned by worldly mirth, or scared by worldly fear.
Some strain of hope and victory
On Easter wings might lift us high
A little while we sought the sky:
And when the SPIRIT'S beacon fires
On every hill began to blare,
Lightening the world with glad amaze,
Who but must kindle while they gaze?
But faster than she soars, our earth-bound Fancy tires.
Nor yet for these, nor all the rites,
By which our Mother's voice invites
Our GOD to bless our home delights,
And sweeten every secret tear:-
The funeral dirge, the marriage vow,
The hollowed font where parents bow,
And now elate and trembling now
To the Redeemer's feet their new-found treasures bear:-
Not for this Pastor's gracious arm
Stretched out to bless--a Christian charm
To dull the shafts of worldly harm:-
Nor, sweetest, holiest, best of all
For the dear feast of JESUS dying,
Upon that altar ever lying,
Where souls with sacred hunger sighing
Are called to sit and eat, while angels prostrate fall:-
No, not for each and all of these,
Have our frail spirits found their ease.
The gale that stirs the autumnal trees
Seems tuned as truly to our hearts
As when, twelve weary months ago,
'Twas moaning bleak, so high and low,
You would have thought Remorse and Woe
Had taught the innocent air their sadly thrilling parts.
Is it, CHRIST'S light is too divine,
We dare not hope like Him to shine?
But see, around His dazzling shrine
Earths gems the fire of Heaven have caught;
Martyrs and saints--each glorious day
Dawning in order on our way -
Remind us, how our darksome clay
May keep th' ethereal warmth our new Creator brought.
These we have scorned, O false and frail!
And now once more th' appalling tale,
How love divine may woo and fail,
Of our lost year in Heaven is told -
What if as far our life were past,
Our weeks all numbered to the last,
With time and hope behind us cast,
And all our work to do with palsied hands and cold?
O watch and pray ere Advent dawn!
For thinner than the subtlest lawn
'Twixt thee and death the veil is drawn.
But Love too late can never glow:
The scattered fragments Love can glean
Refine the dregs, and yield us clean
To regions where one thought serene
Breathes sweeter than whole years of sacrifice below.
ST. ANDREW'S DAY
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have
found the Messias . . . And he brought him to Jesus. St. John i.
When brothers part for manhood's race,
What gift may most endearing prove
To keep fond memory its her place,
And certify a brother's love?
'Tis true, bright hours together told,
And blissful dreams in secret shared,
Serene or solemn, gay or bold,
Shall last in fancy unimpaired.
E'en round the death-bed of the good
Such dear remembrances will hover,
And haunt us with no vexing mood
When all the cares of earth are over.
But yet our craving spirits feel,
We shall live on, though Fancy die,
And seek a surer pledge--a seal
Of love to last eternally.
Who art thou, that wouldst grave thy name
Thus deeply in a brother's heart?
Look on this saint, and learn to frame
Thy love-charm with true Christian art.
First seek thy Saviour out, and dwell
Beneath this shadow of His roof,
Till thou have scanned His features well,
And known Him for the Christ by proof;
Such proof as they are sure to find
Who spend with Him their happy days,
Clean hands, and a self-ruling mind
Ever in tune for love and praise.
Then, potent with the spell of Heaven,
Go, and thine erring brother gain,
Entice him home to be forgiven,
Till he, too, see his Saviour plain.
Or, if before thee in the race,
Urge him with thine advancing tread,
Till, like twin stars, with even pace,
Each lucid course be duly aped.
No fading frail memorial give
To soothe his soul when thou art gone,
But wreaths of hope for aye to live,
And thoughts of good together done.
That so, before the judgment-seat,
Though changed and glorified each face,
Not unremembered ye may meet
For endless ages to embrace.
ST. THOMAS' DAY
Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are
they that have not seen, and yet have believed. St. John xx. 29.
We were not by when Jesus came,
But round us, far and near,
We see His trophies, and His name
In choral echoes hear.
In a fair ground our lot is cast,
As in the solemn week that past,
While some might doubt, but all adored,
Ere the whole widowed Church had seen her risen Lord.
Slowly, as then, His bounteous hand
The golden chain unwinds,
Drawing to Heaven with gentlest band
Wise hearts and loving minds.
Love sought Him first--at dawn of morn
From her sad couch she sprang forlorn,
She sought to weep with Thee alone,
And saw Thine open grave, and knew that thou wert gone.
Reason and Faith at once set out
To search the SAVIOUR'S tomb;
Faith faster runs, but waits without,
As fearing to presume,
Till Reason enter in, and trace
Christ's relics round the holy place -
"Here lay His limbs, and here His sacred head,
And who was by, to make His new-forsaken bed?"
Both wonder, one believes--but while
They muse on all at home,
No thought can tender Love beguile
From Jesus' grave to roam.
Weeping she stays till He appear -
Her witness first the Church must hear -
All joy to souls that can rejoice
With her at earliest call of His dear gracious voice.
Joy too to those, who love to talk
In secret how He died,
Though with sealed eyes awhile they walk,
Nor see him at their side:
Most like the faithful pair are they,
Who once to Emmaus took their way,
Half darkling, till their Master shied
His glory on their souls, made known in breaking bread.
Thus, ever brighter and more bright,
On those He came to save
The Lord of new-created light
Dawned gradual from the grave;
Till passed th' enquiring day-light hour,
And with closed door in silent bower
The Church in anxious musing sate,
As one who for redemption still had long to wait.
Then, gliding through th' unopening door,
Smooth without step or sound,
"Peace to your souls," He said--no more -
They own Him, kneeling round.
Eye, ear, and hand, and loving heart,
Body and soul in every part,
Successive made His witnesses that hour,
Cease not in all the world to show His saving power.
Is there, on earth, a spirit frail,
Who fears to take their word,
Scarce daring, through the twilight pale,
To think he sees the Lord?
With eyes too tremblingly awake
To bear with dimness for His sake?
Read and confess the Hand Divine
That drew thy likeness here so true in every line.
For all thy rankling doubts so sore,
Love thou thy Saviour still,
Him for thy Lord and God adore,
And ever do His will.
Though vexing thoughts may seem to last,
Let not thy soul be quite o'ercast; -
Soon will He show thee all His wounds, and say,
"Long have I known Thy name--know thou My face alway."
THE CONVERSION OF ST. PAUL
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou Me? And he said, Who art Thou, Lord?
And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. Acts ix. 4,
The mid-day sun, with fiercest glare,
Broods o'er the hazy twinkling air:
Along the level sand
The palm-tree's shade unwavering lies,
Just as thy towers, Damascus, rise
To greet you wearied band.
The leader of that martial crew
Seems bent some mighty deed to do,
So steadily he speeds,
With lips firm closed and fixed eye,
Like warrior when the fight is night,
Nor talk nor landscape heeds.
What sudden blaze is round him poured,
As though all Heaven's refulgent hoard
In one rich glory shone?
One moment--and to earth he falls:
What voice his inmost heart appalls? -
Voice heard by him alone.
For to the rest both words and form
Seem lost in lightning and in storm,
While Saul, in wakeful trance,
Sees deep within that dazzling field
His persecuted Lord revealed,
With keen yet pitying glance:
And hears time meek upbraiding call
As gently on his spirit fall,
As if th' Almighty Son
Were prisoner yet in this dark earth,
Nor had proclaimed His royal birth,
Nor His great power begun.
"Ah! wherefore persecut'st thou Me?"
He heard and saw, and sought to free
His strained eyes from the sight:
But Heaven's high magic bound it there,
Still gazing, though untaught to bear
Th' insufferable light.
"Who art Thou, Lord?" he falters forth:-
So shall Sin ask of heaven and earth
At the last awful day.
"When did we see Thee suffering nigh,
And passed Thee with unheeding eye?
Great God of judgment, say!"
Ah! little dream our listless eyes
What glorious presence they despise,
While, in our noon of life,
To power or fame we rudely press. -
Christ is at hand, to scorn or bless,
Christ suffers in our strife.
And though heaven's gate long since have closed,
And our dear Lord in bliss reposed,
High above mortal ken,
To every ear in every land
(Thought meek ears only understand)
He speaks as he did then.
"Ah! wherefore persecute ye Me?
'Tis hard, ye so in love should be
With your own endless woe.
Know, though at God's right hand I live,
I feel each wound ye reckless give
To the least saint below.
"I in your care My brethren left,
Not willing ye should be bereft
Of waiting on your Lord.
The meanest offering ye can make -
A drop of water--for love's sake,
In Heaven, be sure, is stored."
O by those gentle tones and dear,
When thou hast stayed our wild career,
Thou only hope of souls,
Ne'er let us cast one look behind,
But in the thought of Jesus find
What every thought controls.
As to Thy last Apostle's heart
Thy lightning glance did then impart
Zeal's never-dying fire,
So teach us on Thy shrine to lay
Our hearts, and let them day by day
Intenser blaze and higher.
And as each mild and winning note
(Like pulses that round harp-strings float
When the full strain is o'er)
Left lingering on his inward ear
Music, that taught, as death drew near,
Love's lesson more and more:
So, as we walk our earthly round,
Still may the echo of that sound
Be in our memory stored
"Christians! behold your happy state:
Christ is in these, who round you wait;
Make much of your dear Lord!"
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. St.
Matthew v. 8.
Bless'd are the pure in heart,
For they shall see our God,
The secret of the Lord is theirs,
Their soul is Christ's abode.
Might mortal thought presume
To guess an angel's lay,
Such are the notes that echo through
The courts of Heaven to-day.
Such the triumphal hymns
On Sion's Prince that wait,
In high procession passing on
Towards His temple-gate.
Give ear, ye kings--bow down,
Ye rulers of the earth -
This, this is He: your Priest by grace,
Your God and King by birth.
No pomp of earthly guards
Attends with sword and spear,
And all-defying, dauntless look,
Their monarch's way to clear;
Yet are there more with Him
Than all that are with you -
The armies of the highest Heaven,
All righteous, good, and true.
Spotless their robes and pure,
Dipped in the sea of light,
That hides the unapproached shrine
From men's and angels' sight.
His throne, thy bosom blest,
O mother undefiled -
That throne, if aught beneath the skies,
Beseems the sinless child.
Lost in high thoughts, "whose son
The wondrous Babe might prove,"
Her guileless husband walks beside,
Bearing the hallowed dove;
Meet emblem of His vow,
Who, on this happy day,
His dove-like soul--best sacrifice -
Did on God's altar lay.
But who is he, by years
Bowed, but erect in heart,
Whose prayers are struggling with his tears?
"Lord, let me now depart.
"Now hath Thy servant seen
Thy saving health, O Lord;
'Tis time that I depart in peace,
According to Thy word."
Yet swells this pomp: one more
Comes forth to bless her God;
Full fourscore years, meek widow, she
Her heaven-ward way hath troth.
She who to earthly joys
So long had given farewell,
Now sees, unlooked for, Heaven on earth,
Christ in His Israel.
Wide open from that hour
The temple-gates are set,
And still the saints rejoicing there
The holy Child have met.
Now count His train to-day,
Auth who may meet Him, learn:
Him child-like sires, meek maidens find,
Where pride can nought discern.
Still to the lowly soul
He doth Himself impart,
And for His cradle and His throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.
ST. MATTHIAS' DAY
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time
that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the
baptism of John, unto the same day that He was taken up from us,
must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.
Acts i. 21, 22.
Who is God's chosen priest?
He, who on Christ stands waiting day and night,
Who traceth His holy steps, nor ever ceased,
From Jordan banks to Bethphage height:
Who hath learned lowliness
From his Lord's cradle, patience from His Cross;
Whom poor men's eyes and hearts consent to bless;
To whom, for Christ, the world is loss;
Who both in agony
Hath seen Him and in glory; and in both
Owned Him divine, and yielded, nothing loth,
Body and soul, to live and die,
In witness of his Lord,
In humble following of his Saviour dear:
This is the man to wield th' unearthly sword,
Warring unharmed with sin and fear.
But who can o'er suffice -
What mortal--for this more than angels' task,
Winning or losing souls, Thy life-blood's price?
The gift were too divine to ask.
But Thou hast made it sure
By Thy dear promise to thy Church and Bride,
That Thou, on earth, wouldst aye with her endure,
Till earth to Heaven be purified.
Thou art her only spouse,
Whose arm supports her, on Whose faithful breast
Her persecuted head she meekly bows,
Sure pledge of her eternal rest.
Thou, her unerring guide,
Stayest her fainting steps along the wild;
Thy merit is on the bowers of lust and pride,
That she may pass them undefiled.
Who then, uncalled by Thee,
Dare touch Thy spouse, Thy very self below?
Or who dare count him summoned worthily,
Except Thine hand and seal he show?
Where can Thy seal be found,
But on thou chosen seed, from age to age
By thine anointed heralds duly crowned,
As kings and priests Thy war to wage?
Then fearless walk we forth,
Yet full of trembling, Messengers of God:
Our warrant sure, but doubting of our worth,
By our own shame alike and glory awed.
Dread Searcher of the hearts,
Thou who didst seal by Thy descending Dove
Thy servant's choice, O help us in our parts,
Else helpless found, to learn and teach Thy love.
THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
And the Angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art
highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among
women. St. Luke i. 28.
Oh! Thou who deign'st to sympathise
With all our frail and fleshly ties,
Maker yet Brother dear,
Forgive the too presumptuous thought,
If, calming wayward grief, I sought
To gaze on Thee too near.
Yet sure 'twas not presumption, Lord,
'Twas Thine own comfortable word
That made the lesson known:
Of all the dearest bonds we prove,
Thou countest sons and mothers' love
Most sacred, most Thine own.
When wandering here a little span,
Thou took'st on Thee to rescue man,
Thou had'st no earthly sire:
That wedded love we prize so dear,
As if our heaven and home were here,
It lit in Thee no fire.
On no sweet sister's faithful breast
Wouldst Thou Thine aching forehead rest,
On no kind brother lean:
But who, O perfect filial heart,
E'er did like Thee a true son's part,
Endearing, firm, serene?
Thou wept'st, meek maiden, mother mild,
Thou wept'st upon thy sinless Child,
Thy very heart was riven:
And yet, what mourning matron here
Would deem thy sorrows bought too dear
By all on this side Heaven?
A Son that never did amiss,
That never shamed His Mother's kiss,
Nor crossed her fondest prayer:
E'en from the tree He deigned to bow,
For her His agonised brow,
Her, His sole earthly care.
Ave Maria! blessed Maid!
Lily of Eden's fragrant shade,
Who can express the love
That nurtured thee so pure and sweet,
Making thy heart a shelter meet
For Jesus' holy dove?
Ave Maria! Mother blest,
To whom, caressing and caressed,
Clings the eternal Child;
Favoured beyond Archangels' dream,
When first on Thee with tenderest gleam
Thy new-born Saviour smiled:-
Ave Maria! thou whose name
All but adoring love may claim,
Yet may we reach thy shrine;
For He, thy Son and Saviour, vows
To crown all lowly lofty brows
With love and joy like thine.
Blessed is the womb that bare Him--blessed
The bosom where His lips were pressed,
But rather blessed are they
Who hear His word and keep it well,
The living homes where Christ shall dwell,
And never pass away.
ST. MARK'S DAY
And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed
asunder one from the other. Acts xv. 30.
Compare 2 Tim. iv. 11. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he
is profitable to me for the ministry.
Oh! who shall dare in this frail scene
On holiest happiest thoughts to lean,
On Friendship, Kindred, or on Love?
Since not Apostles' hands can clasp
Each other in so firm a grasp
But they shall change and variance prove.
Yet deem not, on such parting sad
Shall dawn no welcome dear and glad:
Divided in their earthly race,
Together at the glorious goal,
Each leading many a rescued soul,
The faithful champions shall embrace.
For e'en as those mysterious Four,
Who the bright whirling wheels upbore
By Chebar in the fiery blast.
So, on their tasks of love and praise
This saints of God their several ways
Right onward speed, yet join at last.
And sometimes e'en beneath the moon
The Saviour gives a gracious boon,
When reconciled Christians meet,
And face to face, and heart to heart,
High thoughts of holy love impart
In silence meek, or converse sweet.
Companion of the Saints! 'twas thine
To taste that drop of peace divine,
When the great soldier of thy Lord
Called thee to take his last farewell,
Teaching the Church with joy to tell
The story of your love restored.
O then the glory and the bliss,
When all that pained or seemed amiss
Shall melt with earth and sin away!
When saints beneath their Saviour's eye,
Filled with each other's company,
Shall spend in love th' eternal day!
ST. PHILIP AND ST. JAMES.
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: but
the rich in that he is made low. St. James i. 9. 10.
Dear is the morning gale of spring,
And dear th' autumnal eve;
But few delights can summer bring
A Poet's crown to weave.
Her bowers are mute, her fountains dry,
And ever Fancy's wing
Speed's from beneath her cloudless sky
To autumn or to spring.
Sweet is the infant's waking smile,
And sweet the old man's rest -
But middle age by no fond wile,
No soothing calm is blest.
Still in the world's hot restless gleam
She plies her weary task,
While vainly for some pleasant dream
Her wandering glances ask. -
O shame upon thee, listless heart,
So sad a sigh to heave,
As if thy SAVIOUR had no part
In thoughts, that make thee grieve.
As if along His lonesome way
He had not borne for thee
Sad languors through the summer day,
Storms on the wintry sea.
Youth's lightning flash of joy secure
Passed seldom o'er His spright, -
A well of serious thought and pure.
Too deep for earthly light.
No spring was His--no fairy gleam -
For He by trial knew
How cold and bare what mortals dream,
To worlds where all is true.
Then grudge not thou the anguish keen
Which makes thee like thy LORD,
And learn to quit with eye serene
Thy youth's ideal hoard.
Thy treasured hopes and raptures high -
Unmurmuring let them go,
Nor grieve the bliss should quickly fly
Which CHRIST disdained to know.
Thou shalt have joy in sadness soon;
The pure, calm hope be thine,
Which brightens, like the eastern moon,
As day's wild lights decline.
Thus souls, by nature pitched too high,
By sufferings plunged too low,
Meet in the Church's middle sky,
Half way 'twixt joy and woe,
To practise there the soothing lay
That sorrow best relieves;
Thankful for all God takes away,
Humbled by all He glass.
The sea of consolation, a Levite. Acts iv. 36.
The world's a room of sickness, where each heart
Knows its own anguish and unrest;
The truest wisdom there, and noblest art,
Is his, who skills of comfort best;
Whom by the softest step and gentlest tone
Enfeebled spirits own,
And love to raise the languid eye,
When, like an angel's wing, they feel him fleeting by:-
FEEL only--for in silence gently gliding
Fain would he shun both ear and sight,
'Twixt Prayer and watchful Love his heart dividing,
A nursing-father day and night.
Such were the tender arms, where cradled lay,
In her sweet natal day,
The Church of JESUS; such the love
He to His chosen taught for His dear widowed Dove.
Warmed underneath the Comforter's safe wing
They spread th' endearing warmth around:
Mourners, speed here your broken hearts to bring,
Here healing dews and balms abound:
Here are soft hands that cannot bless in vain,
By trial taught your pain:
Here loving hearts, that daily know
The heavenly consolations they on you bestow.
Sweet thoughts are theirs, that breathe serenest calms,
Of holy offerings timely paid,
Of fire from heaven to bless their votive alms
And passions on GOD'S altar laid.
The world to them is closed, and now they shine
With rays of love divine,
Through darkest nooks of this dull earth
Pouring, in showery times, their glow of "quiet mirth."
New hearts before their Saviour's feet to lay,
This is their first, their dearest joy:
Their next from heart to heart to clear the way
For mutual love without alloy:
Never so blest as when in JESUS' roll
They write some hero-soul,
More pleased upon his brightening road
To wait, than if their own with all his radiance glowed.
O happy spirits, marked by God and man
Their messages of love to bear,
What though long since in Heaven your brows began,
The genial amarant wreath to wear,
And in th' eternal leisure of calm love
Ye banquet there above;
Yet in your sympathetic heart
We and our earthly griefs may ask and hope a part.
Comfort's true sons! amid the thoughts of down
That strew your pillow of repose,
Sure 'tis one joy to muse, how ye unknown
By sweet remembrance soothe our woes;
And how the spark ye lit, of heavenly cheer,
Lives in our embers here,
Where'er the cross is borne with smiles,
Or lightened secretly by Love's endearing wiles:
Where'er one Levite in the temple keeps
The watch-fire of his midnight prayer,
Or issuing thence, the eyes of mourners steeps
In heavenly balm, fresh gathered there;
Thus saints, that seem to die in earth's rude strife,
Only win double life:
They have but left our weary ways
To live in memory here, in Heaven by love and praise.
ST. JOHN BAPTIST'S DAY
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the
great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart of
the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their
fathers. Malachi iv. 5, 6.
Twice in her season of decay
The fallen Church hath felt Elijah's eye
Dart from the wild its piercing ray:
Not keener burns, in the chill morning sky,
The herald star,
Whose torch afar
Shadows and boding night-birds fly.
Methinks we need him once again,
That favoured seer--but where shall he be found?
By Cherith's side we seek in vain,
In vain on Carmel's green and lonely mound:
Angels no more
From Sinai soar,
On his celestial errands bound.
But wafted to her glorious place
By harmless fire, among the ethereal thrones,
His spirit with a dear embrace
Thee the loved harbinger of Jesus owns,
Well-pleased to view
Her likeness true,
And trace, in thine, her own deep tones.
Deathless himself, he joys with thee
To commune how a faithful martyr dies,
And in the blest could envy be,
He would behold thy wounds with envious eyes,
Star of our morn,
Who yet unborn
Didst guide our hope, where Christ should rise.
Now resting from your jealous care
For sinners, such as Eden cannot know,
Ye pour for us your mingled prayer,
No anxious fear to damp Affection's glow,
Love draws a cloud
From you to shroud
Rebellion's mystery here below.
And since we see, and not afar,
The twilight of the great and dreadful day,
Why linger, till Elijah's car
Stoop from the clouds? Why sheep ye? Rise and pray,
Ye heralds sealed
In camp or field
Your Saviour's banner to display.
Where is the lore the Baptist taught,
The soul unswerving and the fearless tongue?
The much-enduring wisdom, sought
By lonely prayer the haunted rocks among?
Who counts it gain
His light should wane,
So the whole world to Jesus throng?
Thou Spirit, who the Church didst lend
Her eagle wings, to shelter in the wild,
We pray Thee, ere the Judge descend,
With flames like these, all bright and undefiled,
Her watch-fires light,
To guide aright
Our weary souls by earth beguiled.
So glorious let thy Pastors shine,
That by their speaking lives the world may learn
First filial duty, then divine,
That sons to parents, all to Thee may turn;
And ready prove
In fires of love,
At sight of Thee, for aye to burn.
ST. PETER'S DAY
When Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was
sleeping. Acts xii. 26.
Thou thrice denied, yet thrice beloved,
Watch by Thine own forgiven friend;
In sharpest perils faithful proved,
Let his soul love Thee to the end.
The prayer is heard--else why so deep
His slumber on the eve of death?
And wherefore smiles he in his sleep
As one who drew celestial breath?
He loves and is beloved again -
Can his soul choose but be at rest?
Sorrow hath fled away, and Pain
Dares not invade the guarded nest.
He dearly loves, and not alone:
For his winged thoughts are soaring high
Where never yet frail heart was known
To breathe its vain Affection's sigh.
He loves and weeps--but more than tears
Have sealed Thy welcome and his love -
One look lives in him, and endears
Crosses and wrongs where'er he rove:
That gracious chiding look, Thy call
To win him to himself and Thee,
Sweetening the sorrow of his fall
Which else were rued too bitterly.
E'en through the veil of sheep it shines,
The memory of that kindly glance; -
The Angel watching by, divines
And spares awhile his blissful trance.
Or haply to his native lake
His vision wafts him back, to talk
With JESUS, ere His flight He take,
As in that solemn evening walk,
When to the bosom of His friend,
The Shepherd, He whose name is Good.
Did His dear lambs and sheep commend,
Both bought and nourished with His blood:
Then laid on him th' inverted tree,
Which firm embraced with heart and arm,
Might cast o'er hope and memory,
O'er life and death, its awful charm.
With brightening heart he bears it on,
His passport through this eternal gates,
To his sweet home--so nearly won,
He seems, as by the door he waits,
The unexpressive notes to hear
Of angel song and angel motion,
Rising and falling on the ear
Like waves in Joy's unbounded ocean. -
His dream is changed--the Tyrant's voice
Calls to that last of glorious deeds -
But as he rises to rejoice,
Not Herod but an Angel leads.
He dreams he sees a lamp flash bright,
Glancing around his prison room -
But 'tis a gleam of heavenly light
That fills up all the ample gloom.
The flame, that in a few short years
Deep through the chambers of the dead
Shall pierce, and dry the fount of tears,
Is waving o'er his dungeon-bed.
Touched he upstarts--his chains unbind -
Through darksome vault, up massy stair,
His dizzy, doubting footsteps wind
To freedom and cool moonlight air.
Then all himself, all joy and calm,
Though for a while his hand forego,
Just as it touched, the martyr's palm,
He turns him to his task below;
The pastoral staff, the keys of Heaven,
To wield a while in grey-haired might,
Then from his cross to spring forgiven,
And follow JESUS out of sight.
ST. JAMES'S DAY
Ye shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptised with the baptism
that I am baptised with: but to sit on My right hand, and on My
left, is not Mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom
it is prepared of My Father. St. Matthew xx. 23.
Sit down and take thy fill of joy
At God's right hand, a bidden guest,
Drink of the cup that cannot cloy,
Eat of the bread that cannot waste.
O great Apostle! rightly now
Thou readest all thy Saviour meant,
What time His grave yet gentle brow
In sweet reproof on thee was bent.
"Seek ye to sit enthroned by me?
Alas! ye know not what ye ask,
The first in shame and agony,
The lowest in the meanest task -
This can ye be? and came ye drink
The cup that I in tears must steep,
Nor from the 'whelming waters shrink
That o'er Me roll so dark and deep?"
"We can--Thine are we, dearest Lord,
In glory and in agony,
To do and suffer all Thy word;
Only be Thou for ever nigh." -
"Then be it so--My cup receive,
And of My woes baptismal taste:
But for the crown, that angels weave
For those next Me in glory placed,
"I give it not by partial love;
But in My Father's book are writ
What names on earth shall lowliest prove,
That they in Heaven may highest sit."
Take up the lesson, O my heart;
Thou Lord of meekness, write it there,
Thine own meek self to me impart,
Thy lofty hope, thy lowly prayer.
If ever on the mount with Thee
I seem to soar in vision bright,
With thoughts of coming agony,
Stay Thou the too presumptuous flight:
Gently along the vale of tears
Lead me from Tabor's sunbright steep,
Let me not grudge a few short years
With thee t'ward Heaven to walk and weep:
Too happy, on my silent path,
If now and then allowed, with Thee
Watching some placid holy death,
Thy secret work of love to see;
But, oh! most happy, should Thy call,
Thy welcome call, at last be given -
"Come where thou long hast storeth thy all
Come see thy place prepared in Heaven."
Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw
the under the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater
things than these. St. John i. 50.
Hold up thy mirror to the sun,
And thou shalt need an eagle's gaze,
So perfectly the polished stone
Gives back the glory of his rays:
Turn it, and it shall paint as true
The soft green of the vernal earth,
And each small flower of bashful hue,
That closest hides its lowly birth.
Our mirror is a blessed book,
Where out from each illumined page
We see one glorious Image look
All eyes to dazzle and engage,
The Son of God: and that indeed
We see Him as He is, we know,
Since in the same bright glass we read
The very life of things below. -
Eye of God's word! where'er we turn
Ever upon us! thy keen gaze
Can all the depths of sin discern,
Unravel every bosom's maze:
Who that has felt thy glance of dread
Thrill through his heart's remotest cells,
About his path, about his bed,
Can doubt what spirit in thee dwells?
"What word is this? Whence know'st thou me?"
All wondering cries the humbled heart,
To hear thee that deep mystery,
The knowledge of itself, impart.
The veil is raised; who runs may read,
By its own light the truth is seen,
And soon the Israelite indeed
Bows down t' adore the Nazarene.
So did Nathanael, guileless man,
At once, not shame-faced or afraid,
Owning Him God, who so could scan
His musings in the lonely shade;
In his own pleasant fig-tree's shade,
Which by his household fountain grew,
Where at noon-day his prayer he made
To know God better than he knew.
Oh! happy hours of heavenward thought!
How richly crowned! how well improved!
In musing o'er the Law he taught,
In waiting for the Lord he loved.
We must not mar with earthly praise
What God's approving word hath sealed:
Enough, if might our feeble lays
Take up the promise He revealed;
"The child-like faith, that asks not sight,
Waits not for wonder or for sign,
Believes, because it loves, aright -
Shall see things greater, things divine.
"Heaven to that gaze shall open wide,
And brightest angels to and fro
On messages of love shall glide
'Twixt God above and Christ below."
So still the guileless man is blest,
To him all crooked paths are straight,
Him on his way to endless rest
Fresh, ever-growing strengths await.
God's witnesses, a glorious host,
Compass him daily like a cloud;
Martyrs and seers, the saved and lost,
Mercies and judgments cry aloud.
Yet shall to him the still small voice,
That first into his bosom found
A way, and fixed his wavering choice,
Nearest and dearest ever sound.
And after these things He went forth, and saw a publican, named
Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He said unto him,
Follow Me. And he left all, rose up, and followed Him. St. Luke
v. 27, 28.
Ye hermits blest, ye holy maids,
The nearest Heaven on earth,
Who talk with God in shadowy glades,
Free from rude care and mirth;
To whom some viewless teacher brings
The secret lore of rural things,
The moral of each fleeting cloud and gale,
The whispers from above, that haunt the twilight vale:
Say, when in pity ye have gazed
On the wreathed smoke afar,
That o'er some town, like mist upraised,
Hung hiding sun and star,
Then as ye turned your weary eye
To the green earth and open sky,
Were ye not fain to doubt how Faith could dwell
Amid that dreary glare, in this world's citadel?
But Love's a flower that will not die
For lack of leafy screen,
And Christian Hope can cheer the eye
That ne'er saw vernal green;
Then be ye sure that Love can bless
E'en in this crowded loneliness,
Where ever-moving myriads seem to say,
Go--thou art naught to us, nor we to thee--away!
There are in this loud stunning tide
Of human care and crime,
With whom the melodies abide
Of th' everlasting chime;
Who carry music in their heart
Through dusky lane and wrangling mart,
Plying their daily task with busier feet,
Because their secret souls a holy strain repeat.
How sweet to them, in such brief rest
As thronging cares afford,
In thought to wander, fancy-blest,
To where their gracious Lord,
In vain, to win proud Pharisees,
Spake, and was heard by fell disease -
But not in vain, beside yon breezy lake,
Bade the meek Publican his gainful seat forsake:
At once he rose, and left his gold;
His treasure and his heart
Transferred, where he shall safe behold
Earth and her idols part;
While he beside his endless store
Shall sit, and floods unceasing pour
Of Christ's true riches o'er all time and space,
First angel of His Church, first steward of His Grace.
Nor can ye not delight to think
Where He vouchsafed to eat,
How the Most Holy did not shrink
From touch of sinner's meat;
What worldly hearts and hearts impure
Went with Him through the rich man's door,
That we might learn of Him lost souls to love,
And view His least and worst with hope to meet above.
These gracious lines shed Gospel light
On Mammon's gloomiest cells,
As on some city's cheerless night
The tide of sunrise swells,
Till tower, and dome, and bridge-way proud
Are mantled with a golden cloud,
And to wise hearts this certain hope us given;
"No mist that man may raise, shall hide the eye of Heaven."
And oh! if e'en on Babel shine
Such gleams of Paradise,
Should not their peace be peace divine,
Who day by day arise
To look on clearer heavens, and scan
The work of God untouch'd by man?
Shame on us, who about us Babel bear,
And live in Paradise, as if God was not there!
ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for
them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews i. 14.
Ye stars that round the Sun of righteousness
In glorious order roll,
With harps for ever strung, ready to bless
God for each rescued soul,
Ye eagle spirits, that build in light divine,
Oh! think of us to-day,
Faint warblers of this earth, that would combine
Our trembling notes with your accepted lay.
Your amarant wreaths were earned; and homeward all,
Flush'd with victorious might,
Ye might have sped to keep high festival,
And revel in the light;
But meeting us, weak worldlings, on our way,
Tired ere the fight begun,
Ye turned to help us in th' unequal fray,
Remembering Whose we were, how dearly won:
Remembering Bethlehem, and that glorious night
When ye, who used to soar
Diverse along all space in fiery flight,
Came thronging to adore
Your God new-born, and made a sinner's child;
As if the stars should leave
Their stations in the far ethereal wild,
And round the sun a radiant circle weave.
Nor less your lay of triumph greeted fair
Our Champion and your King,
In that first strife, whence Satan in despair
Sunk down on scathed wing:
Abuse He fasted, and alone He fought;
But when His toils were o'er,
Ye to the sacred Hermit duteous brought
Banquet and hymn, your Eden's festal store.
Ye too, when lowest in th' abyss of woe
He plunged to save His sheep,
Were leaning from your golden thrones to know
The secrets of that deep:
But clouds were on His sorrow: one alone
His agonising call
Summoned from Heaven, to still that bitterest groan,
And comfort Him, the Comforter of all.
Oh! highest favoured of all Spirits create
(If right of thee we deem),
How didst thou glide on brightening wing elate
To meet th' unclouded beam
Of Jesus from the couch of darkness rising!
How swelled thine anthem's sound,
With fear and mightier joy weak hearts surprising,
"Your God is risen, and may not here be found!"
Pass a few days, and this dull darkling globe
Must yield Him from her sight; -
Brighter and brighter streams His glory-robe,
And He is lost in light.
Then, when through yonder everlasting arch,
Ye in innumerous choir
Poured, heralding Messiah's conquering march,
Lingered around His skirts two forms of fire:
With us they stayed, high warning to impart;
"The Christ shall come again
E'en as He goes; with the same human heart,
With the same godlike train." -
Oh! jealous God! how could a sinner dare
Think on that dreadful day,
But that with all Thy wounds Thou wilt be there,
And all our angel friends to bring Thee on Thy way?
Since to Thy little ones is given such grace,
That they who nearest stand
Alway to God in Heaven, and see His face,
Go forth at His command,
To wait around our path in weal or woe,
As erst upon our King,
Set Thy baptismal seal upon our brow,
And waft us heavenward with enfolding wing:
Grant. Lord, that when around th' expiring world
Our seraph guardians wait,
While on her death-bed, ere to ruin hurled,
She owns Thee, all too late,
They to their charge may turn, and thankful see
Thy mark upon us still;
Then all together rise, and reign with Thee,
And all their holy joy o'er contrite hearts fulfil!
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Colossians iv.
Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world . . . Only
Luke is with me. 2 Timothy iv. 10, 11.
Two clouds before the summer gale
In equal race fleet o'er the sky:
Two flowers, when wintry blasts assail,
Together pins, together die.
But two capricious human hearts -
No sage's rod may track their ways.
No eye pursue their lawless starts
Along their wild self-chosen maze.
He only, by whose sovereign hand
E'en sinners for the evil day
Were made--who rules the world He planned,
Turning our worst His own good way;
He only can the cause reveal,
Why, at the same fond bosom fed,
Taught in the self-same lap to kneel
Till the same prayer were duly said,
Brothers in blood and nurture too,
Aliens in heart so oft should prove;
One lose, the other keep, Heaven's clue;
One dwell in wrath, and one in love.
He only knows--for He can read
The mystery of the wicked heart -
Why vainly oft our arrows speed
When aimed with most unerring art;
While from some rude and powerless arm
A random shaft in season sent
Shall light upon some lurking harm,
And work some wonder little meant.
Doubt we, how souls so wanton change,
Leaving their own experienced rest?
Need not around the world to range;
One narrow cell may teach us best.
Look in, and see Christ's chosen saint
In triumph wear his Christ-like chain;
No fear lest he should swerve or faint;
"His life is Christ, his death is gain."
Two converts, watching by his side,
Alike his love and greetings share;
Luke the beloved, the sick soul's guide,
And Demas, named in faltering prayer.
Pass a few years--look in once more -
The saint is in his bonds again;
Save that his hopes more boldly soar,
He and his lot unchanged remain.
But only Luke is with him now:
Alas! that e'en the martyr's cell,
Heaven's very gate, should scope allow
For the false world's seducing spell.
'Tis sad--but yet 'tis well, be sure,
We on the sight should muse awhile,
Nor deem our shelter all secure
E'en in the Church's holiest aisle.
Vainly before the shrine he bends,
Who knows not the true pilgrim's part:
The martyr's cell no safety lends
To him who wants the martyr's heart.
But if there be, who follows Paul
As Paul his Lord, in life and death,
Where'er an aching heart may call,
Ready to speed and take no breath;
Whose joy is, to the wandering sheep
To tell of the great Shepherd's love;
To learn of mourners while they weep
The music that makes mirth above;
Who makes the Saviour all his theme,
The Gospel all his pride and praise -
Approach: for thou canst feel the gleam
That round the martyr's death-bed plays:
Thou hast an ear for angels' songs,
A breath the gospel trump to fill,
And taught by thee the Church prolongs
Her hymns of high thanksgiving still.
Ah! dearest mother, since too oft
The world yet wins some Demas frail
E'en from thine arms, so kind and soft,
May thy tried comforts never fail!
When faithless ones forsake thy wing,
Be it vouchsafed thee still to see
Thy true, fond nurslings closer cling,
Cling closer to their Lord and thee.
ST. SIMON AND ST. JUDE
That ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once
delivered unto the saints. St. Jude 3.
Seest thou, how tearful and alone,
And drooping like a wounded dove,
The Cross in sight, but Jesus gone,
The widowed Church is fain to rove?
Who is at hand that loves the Lord?
Make haste, and take her home, and bring
Thine household choir, in true accord
Their soothing hymns for her to sing.
Soft on her fluttering heart shall breathe
The fragrance of that genial isle,
There she may weave her funeral wreath,
And to her own sad music smile.
The Spirit of the dying Son
Is there, and fills the holy place
With records sweet of duties done,
Of pardoned foes, and cherished grace.
And as of old by two and two
His herald saints the Saviour sent
To soften hearts like morning dew,
Where he to shine in mercy meant;
So evermore He deems His name
Best honoured and his way prepared,
When watching by his altar-flame
He sees His servants duly paired.
He loves when age and youth are met,
Fervent old age and youth serene,
Their high and low in concord set
For sacred song, Joy's golden mean.
He loves when some clear soaring mind
Is drawn by mutual piety
To simple souls and unrefined,
Who in life's shadiest covert lie.
Or if perchance a saddened heart
That once was gay and felt the spring,
Cons slowly o'er its altered part,
In sorrow and remorse to sing,
Thy gracious care will send that way
Some spirit full of glee, yet taught
To bear the sight of dull decay,
And nurse it with all-pitying thought;
Cheerful as soaring lark, and mild
As evening blackbird's full-toned lay,
When the relenting sun has smiled
Bright through a whole December day.
These are the tones to brace and cheer
The lonely watcher of the fold,
When nights are dark, and foeman near,
When visions fade and hearts grow cold.
How timely then a comrade's song
Comes floating on the mountain air,
And bids thee yet be bold and strong -
Fancy may die, but Faith is there.
ALL SAINTS' DAY.
Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have
sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. Revelation vii.
Why blow'st thou not, thou wintry wind,
Now every leaf is brown and sere,
And idly droops, to thee resigned,
The fading chaplet of the year?
Yet wears the pure aerial sky
Her summer veil, half drawn on high,
Of silvery haze, and dark and still
The shadows sleep on every slanting hill.
How quiet shows the woodland scene!
Each flower and tree, its duty done,
Reposing in decay serene,
Like weary men when age is won,
Such calm old age as conscience pure
And self-commanding hearts ensure,
Waiting their summons to the sky,
Content to live, but not afraid to die.
Sure if our eyes were purged to trace
God's unseen armies hovering round,
We should behold by angels' grace
The four strong winds of Heaven fast bound,
Their downward sweep a moment stayed
On ocean cove and forest glade,
Till the last flower of autumn shed
Her funeral odours on her dying bed.
So in Thine awful armoury, Lord,
The lightnings of the judgment-day
Pause yet awhile, in mercy stored,
Till willing hearts wear quite away
Their earthly stains; and spotless shine
On every brow in light divine
The Cross by angel hands impressed,
The seal of glory won and pledge of promised
Little they dream, those haughty souls
Whom empires own with bended knee,
What lowly fate their own controls,
Together linked by Heaven's decree; -
As bloodhounds hush their baying wild
To wanton with some fearless child,
So Famine waits, and War with greedy eyes,
Till some repenting heart be ready for the skies.
Think ye the spires that glow so bright
In front of yonder setting sun,
Stand by their own unshaken might?
No--where th' upholding grace is won,
We dare not ask, nor Heaven would tell,
But sure from many a hidden dell,
From many a rural nook unthought of there,
Rises for that proud world the saints' prevailing prayer.
On, Champions blest, in Jesus' name,
Short be your strife, your triumph full,
Till every heart have caught your flame,
And, lightened of the world's misrule,
Ye soar those elder saints to meet
Gathered long since at Jesus' feet,
No world of passions to destroy,
Your prayers and struggles o'er, your task all praise and joy.
O God of Mercy, God of Might,
How should pale sinners bear the sight,
If, as Thy power in surely here,
Thine open glory should appear?
For now Thy people are allowed
To scale the mount and pierce the cloud,
And Faith may feed her eager view
With wonders Sinai never knew.
Fresh from th' atoning sacrifice
The world's Creator bleeding lies.
That man, His foe, by whom He bled,
May take Him for his daily bread.
O agony of wavering thought
When sinners first so near are brought!
"It is my Maker--dare I stay?
My Saviour--dare I turn away?"
Thus while the storm is high within
'Twixt love of Christ and fear of sin,
Who can express the soothing charm,
To feel Thy kind upholding arm,
My mother Church? and hear thee tell
Of a world lost, yet loved so well,
That He, by whom the angels live,
His only Son for her would give?
Back to Full Books