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. 41, 42.
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, 5.
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. 14. 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. 3.
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?
And doubt we yet? Thou call'st again; A lower still, a sweeter strain; A voice from Mercy's inmost shrine, This very breath of Love divine.
Whispering it says to each apart, "Come unto Me, thou trembling heart;" And we must hope, so sweet the tone, The precious words are all our own.
Hear them, kind Saviour—hear Thy Spouse Low at Thy feet renew her vows; Thine own dear promise she would plead For us her true though fallen seed.
She pleads by all Thy mercies, told Thy chosen witnesses of old, Love's heralds sent to man forgiven, One from the Cross, and one from Heaven.
This, of true penitents the chief, To the lost spirit brings relief, Lifting on high th' adored Name:- "Sinners to save, Christ, Jesus came."
That, dearest of Thy bosom Friends, Into the wavering heart descends:- "What? fallen again? yet cheerful rise. Thine Intercessor never dies."
The eye of Faith, that waxes bright Each moment by thine altar's light, Sees them e'en now: they still abide In mystery kneeling at our side:
And with them every spirit blest, From realms of triumph or of rest, From Him who saw creation's morn, Of all Thine angels eldest born,
To the poor babe, who died to-day, Take part in our thanksgiving lay, Watching the tearful joy and calm, While sinners taste Thine heavenly balm.
Sweet awful hour! the only sound One gentle footstep gliding round, Offering by turns on Jesus' part The Cross to every hand and heart.
Refresh us, Lord, to hold it fast; And when Thy veil is drawn at last, Let us depart where shadows cease, With words of blessing and of peace.
Where is it mothers learn their love? - In every Church a fountain springs O'er which th' Eternal Dove Hovers out softest wings.
What sparkles in that lucid flood Is water, by gross mortals eyed: But seen by Faith, 'tis blood Out of a dear Friend's side.
A few calm words of faith and prayer, A few bright drops of holy dew, Shall work a wonder there Earth's charmers never knew.
O happy arms, where cradled lies, And ready for the Lord's embrace, That precious sacrifice, The darling of His grace!
Blest eyes, that see the smiling gleam Upon the slumbering features glow, When the life-giving stream Touches the tender brow!
Or when the holy cross is signed, And the young soldier duly sworn, With true and fearless mind To serve the Virgin-born.
But happiest ye, who sealed and blest Back to your arms your treasure take, With Jesus' mark impressed To nurse for Jesus' sake:
To whom—as if in hallowed air Ye knelt before some awful shrine - His innocent gestures wear A meaning half divine:
By whom Love's daily touch is seen In strengthening form and freshening hue, In the fixed brow serene, The deep yet eager view. -
Who taught thy pure and even breath To come and go with such sweet grace? Whence thy reposing Faith, Though in our frail embrace?
O tender gem, and full of Heaven! Not in the twilight stars on high, Not in moist flowers at even See we our God so nigh.
Sweet one, make haste and know Him too, Thine own adopting Father love, That like thine earliest dew Thy dying sweets may prove.
Oh! say not, dream not, heavenly notes To childish ears are vain, That the young mind at random floats, And cannot reach the strain.
Dim or unheard, the words may fall, And yet the heaven-taught mind May learn the sacred air, and all The harmony unwind.
Was not our Lord a little child, Taught by degrees to pray, By father dear and mother mild Instructed day by day?
And loved He not of Heaven to talk With children in His sight, To meet them in His daily walk, And to His arms invite?
What though around His throne of fire The everlasting chant Be wafted from the seraph choir In glory jubilant?
Yet stoops He, ever pleased to mark Our rude essays of love, Faint as the pipe of wakening lark, Heard by some twilight grove:
Yet is He near us, to survey These bright and ordered files, Like spring-flowers in their best array, All silence and all smiles.
Save that each little voice in turn Some glorious truth proclaims, What sages would have died to learn, Now taught by cottage dames.
And if some tones be false or low, What are all prayers beneath But cries of babes, that cannot know Half the deep thought they breathe?
In His own words we Christ adore, But angels, as we speak, Higher above our meaning soar Than we o'er children weak:
And yet His words mean more than they, And yet He owns their praise: Why should we think, He turns away From infants' simple lays?
The shadow of th' Almighty's cloud Calm on this tents of Israel lay, While drooping paused twelve banners proud, Till He arise and lead this way.
Then to the desert breeze unrolled, Cheerly the waving pennons fly, Lion or eagle—each bright fold A lodestar to a warrior's eye.
So should Thy champions, ere this strife By holy hands o'ershadowed kneel, So, fearless for their charmed life, Bear, to this end, Thy Spirit's seal.
Steady and pure as stars that beam In middle heaven, all mist above, Seen deepest in this frozen stream:- Such is their high courageous love.
And soft as pure, and warm as bright, They brood upon life's peaceful hour, As if the Dove that guides their flight Shook from her plumes a downy shower.
Spirit of might and sweetness too! Now leading on the wars of God, Now to green isles of shade and dew Turning the waste Thy people trod;
Draw, Holy Ghost, Thy seven-fold veil Between us and the fires of youth; Breathe, Holy Ghost, Thy freshening gale, Our fevered brow in age to soothe.
And oft as sin and sorrow tire, This hallowed hour do Thou renew, When beckoned up the awful choir By pastoral hands, toward Thee we drew;
When trembling at this sacred rail We hid our eyes and held our breath, Felt Thee how strong, our hearts how frail, And longed to own Thee to the death.
For ever on our souls be traced That blessing dear, that dove-like hand, A sheltering rock in Memory's waste, O'er-shadowing all the weary land.
There is an awe in mortals' joy, A deep mysterious fear Half of the heart will still employ, As if we drew too near To Eden's portal, and those fires That bicker round in wavy spires, Forbidding, to our frail desires, What cost us once so dear.
We cower before th' heart-searching eye In rapture as its pain; E'en wedded Love, till Thou be nigh, Dares not believe her gain: Then in the air she fearless springs, The breath of Heaven beneath her wings, And leaves her woodnote wild, and sings A tuned and measured strain.
Ill fare the lay, though soft as dew And free as air it fall, That, with Thine altar full in view, Thy votaries would enthrall To a foul dream, of heathen night, Lifting her torch in Love's despite, And scaring with base wild-fire light The sacred nuptial hall.
Far other strains, far other fires, Our marriage-offering grace; Welcome, all chaste and kind desires, With even matron pace Approaching down this hallowed aisle! Where should ye seek Love's perfect smile, But where your prayers were learned erewhile, In her own native place?
Where, but on His benignest brow, Who waits to bless you here? Living, he owned no nuptial vow, No bower to Fancy dear: Love's very self—for Him no need To nurse, on earth, the heavenly seed: Yet comfort in His eye we read For bridal joy and fear.
'Tis He who clasps the marriage band, And fits the spousal ring, Then leaves ye kneeling, hand in hand, Out of His stores to bring His Father's dearest blessing, shed Of old on Isaac's nuptial bed, Now on the board before ye spread Of our all-bounteous King.
All blessings of the breast and womb, Of Heaven and earth beneath, Of converse high, and sacred home, Are yours, in life and death. Only kneel on, nor turn away From the pure shrine, where Christ to-day Will store each flower, ye duteous lay, For an eternal wreath.
VISITATION AND COMMUNION OF THE SICK
O Youth and Joy, your airy tread Too lightly springs by Sorrow's bed, Your keen eye-glances are too bright, Too restless for a sick man's sight. Farewell; for one short life we part: I rather woo the soothing art, Which only souls in sufferings tried Bear to their suffering brethren's side.
Where may we learn that gentle spell? Mother of Martyrs, thou canst tell! Thou, who didst watch thy dying Spouse With pierced hands and bleeding brows, Whose tears from age to age are shed O'er sainted sons untimely dead, If e'er we charm a soul in pain, Thine is the key-note of our strain.
How sweet with thee to lift the latch, Where Faith has kept her midnight watch, Smiling on woe: with thee to kneel, Where fixed, as if one prayer could heal, She listens, till her pale eye glow With joy, wild health can never know, And each calm feature, ere we read, Speaks, silently, thy glorious Creed.
Such have I seen: and while they poured Their hearts in every contrite word, How have I rather longed to kneel And ask of them sweet pardon's seal; How blessed the heavenly music brought By thee to aid my faltering thought! "Peace" ere we kneel, and when we cease To pray, the farewell word is, "Peace."
I came again: the place was bright "With something of celestial light" - A simple Altar by the bed For high Communion meetly spread, Chalice, and plate, and snowy vest. - We ate and drank: then calmly blest, All mourners, one with dying breath, We sate and talked of Jesus' death.
Once more I came: the silent room Was veiled in sadly-soothing gloom, And ready for her last abode The pale form like a lily showed, By Virgin fingers duly spread, And prized for love of summer fled. The light from those soft-smiling eyes Had fleeted to its parent skies.
O soothe us, haunt us, night and day, Ye gentle Spirits far away, With whom we shared the cup of grace, Then parted; ye to Christ's embrace, We to this lonesome world again, Yet mindful of th' unearthly strain Practised with you at Eden's door, To be sung on, where Angels soar, With blended voices evermore.
BURIAL OF THE DEAD
And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And He came and touched the bier; and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.—St. Luke vii. 13, 14.
Who says, the wan autumnal soon Beams with too faint a smile To light up nature's face again, And, though the year be on this wane, With thoughts of spring the heart beguile?
Waft him, thou soft September breeze, And gently lay him down Within some circling woodland wall, Where bright leaves, reddening ere they fall, Wave gaily o'er the waters brown.
And let some graceful arch be there With wreathed mullions proud, With burnished ivy for its screen, And moss, that glows as fresh and green As thought beneath an April cloud. -
Who says the widow's heart must break, The childless mother sink? - A kinder truer voice I hear, Which e'en beside that mournful bier Whence parents' eyes would hopeless shrink,
Bids weep no more—O heart bereft, How strange, to thee, that sound! A widow o'er her only son, Feeling more bitterly alone For friends that press officious round.
Yet is the voice of comfort heard, For Christ hath touched the bier - The bearers wait with wondering eye, The swelling bosom dares not sigh, But all is still, 'twixt hope and fear.
E'en such an awful soothing calm We sometimes see alight On Christian mourners, while they wait In silence, by some churchyard gate, Their summons to this holy rite.
And such the tones of love, which break The stillness of that hour, Quelling th' embittered spirit's strife - "The Resurrection and the Life Am I: believe, and die no more."
Unchanged that voice—and though not yet The dead sit up and speak, Answering its call; we gladlier rest Our darlings on earth's quiet breast, And our hearts feel they must not break.
Far better they should sleep awhile Within the Church's shade, Nor wake, until new heaven, new earth, Meet for their new immortal birth For their abiding-place be made,
Than wander back to life, and lean On our frail love once more. 'Tis sweet, as year by year we lose Friends out of sight, in faith to muse How grows in Paradise our store.
Then pass, ye mourners, cheerly on, Through prayer unto the tomb, Still, as ye watch life's falling leaf, Gathering from every loss and grief Hope of new spring and endless home.
Then cheerly to your work again With hearts new-braced and set To run, untired, love's blessed race. As meet for those, who face to face Over the grave their Lord have met.
CHURCHING OF WOMEN
Is there, in bowers of endless spring, One known from all the seraph band By softer voice, by smile and wing More exquisitely bland! Here let him speed: to-day this hallowed air Is fragrant with a mother's first and fondest prayer.
Only let Heaven her fire impart, No richer incense breathes on earth: "A spouse with all a daughter's heart," Fresh from the perilous birth, To the great Father lifts her pale glad eye, Like a reviving flower when storms are hushed on high.
Oh, what a treasure of sweet thought Is here! what hope and joy and love All in one tender bosom brought, For the all-gracious Dove To brood o'er silently, and form for Heaven Each passionate wish and dream to dear affection given.
Her fluttering heart, too keenly blest, Would sicken, but she leans on Thee, Sees Thee by faith on Mary's breast, And breathes serene and free. Slight tremblings only of her veil declare Soft answers duly whispered to each soothing prayer.
We are too weak, when Thou dost bless, To bear the joy—help, Virgin-born! By Thine own mother's first caress, That waked Thy natal morn! Help, by the unexpressive smile, that made A Heaven on earth around this couch where Thou wast laid.
The prayers are o'er: why slumberest thou so long, Thou voice of sacred song? Why swell'st thou not, like breeze from mountain cave, High o'er the echoing nave, This white-robed priest, as otherwhile, to guide, Up to the Altar's northern side? - A mourner's tale of shame and sad decay Keeps back our glorious sacrifice to-day:
The widow'd Spouse of Christ: with ashes crown'd, Her Christmas robes unbound, She lingers in the porch for grief and fear, Keeping her penance drear, - Oh, is it nought to you? that idly gay, Or coldly proud, ye turn away? But if her warning tears in vain be spent, Lo, to her altered eye this Law's stern fires are lent.
Each awful curse, that on Mount Ebal rang, Peals with a direr clang Out of that silver trump, whose tones of old Forgiveness only told. And who can blame the mother's fond affright, Who sporting on some giddy height Her infant sees, and springs with hurried hand To snatch the rover from the dangerous strand?
But surer than all words the silent spell (So Grecian legends tell) When to her bird, too early 'scaped the nest, She bares her tender breast, Smiling he turns and spreads his little wing, There to glide home, there safely cling. So yearns our mother o'er each truant son, So softly falls the lay in fear and wrath begun.
Wayward and spoiled she knows ye: the keen blast, That braced her youth, is past: The rod of discipline, the robe of shame - She bears them in your name: Only return and love. But ye perchance Are deeper plunged in sorrow's trance: Your God forgives, but ye no comfort take Till ye have scourged the sins that in your conscience ache.
Oh, heavy laden soul! kneel down and hear Thy penance in calm fear: With thine own lips to sentence all thy sin; Then, by the judge within Absolved, in thankful sacrifice to part For ever with thy sullen heart, Nor on remorseful thoughts to brood, and stain This glory of the Cross, forgiven and cheereth in vain.
FORMS OF PRAYER TO BE USED AT SEA
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee. Isaiah xliii. 2.
The shower of moonlight falls as still and clear Upon this desert main As where sweet flowers some pastoral garden cheer With fragrance after rain: The wild winds rustle in piping shrouds, As in the quivering trees: Like summer fields, beneath the shadowy clouds The yielding waters darken in the breeze.
Thou too art here with thy soft inland tones, Mother of our new birth; The lonely ocean learns thy orisons, And loves thy sacred mirth: When storms are high, or when the fires of war Come lightening round our course, Thou breath'st a note like music from afar, Tempering rude hearts with calm angelic force.
Far, far away, the homesick seaman's hoard, Thy fragrant tokens live, Like flower-leaves in a previous volume stored, To solace and relieve Some heart too weary of the restless world; Or like thy Sabbath Cross, That o'er this brightening billow streams unfurled, Whatever gale the labouring vessel toss.
Oh, kindly soothing in high Victory's hour, Or when a comrade dies, In whose sweet presence Sorrow dares not lower, Nor Expectation rise Too high for earth; what mother's heart could spare To the cold cheerless deep Her flower and hope? but Thou art with him there, Pledge of the untired arm and eye that cannot sleep:
The eye that watches o'er wild Ocean's dead, Each in his coral cave, Fondly as if the green turf wrapt his head Fast by his father's grave, - One moment, and the seeds of life shall spring Out of the waste abyss, And happy warriors triumph with their King In worlds without a sea, unchanging orbs of bliss.
A thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. Acts xxiii. 11.
Beneath the burning eastern sky The Cross was raised at morn: The widowed Church to weep stood by, The world, to hate and scorn.
Now, journeying westward, evermore We know the lonely Spouse By the dear mark her Saviour bore Traced on her patient brows.
At Rome she wears it, as of old Upon th' accursed hill: By monarchs clad in gems and gold, She goes a mourner still.
She mourns that tender hearts should bend Before a meaner shrine, And upon Saint or Angel spend The love that should be thine.
By day and night her sorrows fall Where miscreant hands and rude Have stained her pure ethereal pall With many a martyr's blood.
And yearns not her parental heart, To hear THEIR secret sighs, Upon whose doubting way apart Bewildering shadows rise?
Who to her side in peace would cling, But fear to wake, and find What they had deemed her genial wing Was Error's soothing blind.
She treasures up each throbbing prayer: Come, trembler, come and pour Into her bosom all thy care, For she has balm in store.
Her gentle teaching sweetly blends With this clear light of Truth The aerial gleam that Fancy lends To solemn thoughts in youth. -
If thou hast loved, in hours of gloom, To dream the dead are near, And people all the lonely room With guardian spirits dear,
Dream on the soothing dream at will: The lurid mist is o'er, That showed the righteous suffering still Upon th' eternal shore.
If with thy heart the strains accord, That on His altar-throne Highest exalt thy glorious Lord, Yet leave Him most thine own;
Oh, come to our Communion Feast: There present, in the heart As in the hands, th' eternal Priest Will His true self impart. -
Thus, should thy soul misgiving turn Back to the enchanted air, Solace and warning thou mayst learn From all that tempts thee there.
And, oh! by all the pangs and fears Fraternal spirits know, When for an elder's shame the tears Of wakeful anguish flow,
Speak gently of our sister's fall: Who knows but gentle love May win her at our patient call The surer way to prove?
KING CHARLES THE MARTYR
This is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 St. Peter ii. 19.
Praise to our pardoning God! though silent now The thunders of the deep prophetic sky, Though in our sight no powers of darkness bow Before th' Apostles' glorious company;
The Martyrs' noble army still is ours, Far in the North our fallen days have seen How in her woe this tenderest spirit towers For Jesus' sake in agony serene.
Praise to our God! not cottage hearths alone, And shades impervious to the proud world's glare, Such witness yield; a monarch from his throne Springs to his Cross and finds his glory there.
Yes: whereso'er one trace of thee is found, As in the Sacred Land, the shadows fall: With beating hearts we roam the haunted ground, Lone battle-field, or crumbling prison hall.
And there are aching solitary breasts, Whose widowed walk with thought of thee is cheered Our own, our royal Saint: thy memory rests On many a prayer, the more for thee endeared.
True son of our dear Mother, early taught With her to worship and for her to die, Nursed in her aisles to more than kingly thought, Oft in her solemn hours we dream thee nigh.
For thou didst love to trace her daily lore, And where we look for comfort or for calm, Over the self-same lines to bend, and pour Thy heart with hers in some victorious psalm.
And well did she thy loyal love repay; When all forsook, her Angels still were nigh, Chained and bereft, and on thy funeral way, Straight to the Cross she turned thy dying eye
And yearly now, before the Martyrs' King, For thee she offers her maternal tears, Calls us, like thee, to His dear feet to cling, And bury in His wounds our earthly fears.
The Angels hear, and there is mirth in Heaven, Fit prelude of the joy, when spirits won Like those to patient Faith, shall rise forgiven, And at their Saviour's knees thy bright example own.
THE RESTORATION OF THE ROYAL FAMILY
And Barzillai said unto the King, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the King unto Jerusalem? 2 Samuel xix. 34.
As when the Paschal week is o'er, Sleeps in the silent aisles no more The breath of sacred song, But by the rising Saviour's light Awakened soars in airy flight, Or deepening rolls along;
The while round altar, niche, and shrine, The funeral evergreens entwine, And a dark brilliance cast, The brighter for their hues of gloom, Tokens of Him, who through the tomb Into high glory passed:
Such were the lights and such the strains. When proudly streamed o'er ocean plains Our own returning Cross; For with that triumph seemed to float Far on the breeze one dirge-like note Of orphanhood and loss.
Father and King, oh where art thou? A greener wreath adorns thy brow, And clearer rays surround; O, for one hour of prayer like thine, To plead before th' all-ruling shrine For Britain lost and found!
And he, whose mild persuasive voice Taught us in trials to rejoice, Most like a faithful dove, That by some ruined homestead builds, And pours to the forsaken fields His wonted lay of love:
Why comes he not to bear his part, To lift and guide th' exulting heart? - A hand that cannot spars Lies heavy on his gentle breast: We wish him health; he sighs for rest, And Heaven accepts the prayer.
Yes, go in peace, dear placid spright, Ill spared; but would we store aright Thy serious sweet farewell, We need not grudge thee to the skies, Sure after thee in time to rise, With thee for ever dwell.
Till then, whene'er with duteous hand, Year after year, my native Land Her royal offering brings, Upon the Altar lays the Crown, And spreads her robes of old renown Before the King of kings.
Be some kind spirit, likest thine, Ever at hand, with airs divine The wandering heart to seize; Whispering, "How long hast thou to live, That thou should'st Hope or Fancy gave To flowers or crowns like these?"
As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Joshua i. 5.
The voice that from the glory came To tell how Moses died unseen, And waken Joshua's spear of flame To victory on the mountains green, Its trumpet tones are sounding still, When Kings or Parents pass away, They greet us with a cheering thrill Of power and comfort in decay.
Behind thus soft bright summer cloud That makes such haste to melt and die, Our wistful gaze is oft allowed A glimpse of the unchanging sky: Let storm and darkness do their worst; For the lost dream the heart may ache, The heart may ache, but may not burst; Heaven will not leave thee nor forsake.
One rock amid the weltering floods, One torch in a tempestuous night, One changeless pine in fading woods:- Such is the thought of Love and Might, True Might and ever-present Love, When death is busy near the throne, Auth Sorrow her keen sting would prove On Monarchs orphaned and alone.
In that lorn hour and desolate, Who could endure a crown? but He, Who singly bore the world's sad weight, Is near, to whisper, "Lean on Me: Thy days of toil, thy nights of care, Sad lonely dreams in crowded hall, Darkness within, while pageants glare Around—the Cross supports them all."
Oh, Promise of undying Love! While Monarchs seek thee for repose, Far in the nameless mountain cove Each pastoral heart thy bounty knows. Ye, who in place of shepherds true Come trembling to their awful trust, Lo here the fountain to imbue With strength and hope your feeble dust.
Not upon Kings or Priests alone The power of that dear word is spent; It chants to all in softest tone The lowly lesson of Content: Heaven's light is poured on high and low; To high and low Heaven's Angel spake; "Resign thee to thy weal or woe, I ne'er will leave thee nor forsake."
After this, the congregation shall be desired, secretly in their prayers, to make their humble supplications to God for all these things: for the which prayers there shall be silence kept for a space.
After which shall be sung or said by the Bishop (the persons to be ordained Priests all kneeling), "Veni, Creator Spiritus." Rubric in the Office for Ordering of Priests.
'Twas silence in Thy temple, Lord, When slowly through the hallowed air The spreading cloud of incense soared, Charged with the breath of Israel's prayer.
'Twas silence round Thy throne on high, When the last wondrous seal unclosed, And in this portals of the sky Thine armies awfully reposed.
And this deep pause, that o'er us now Is hovering—comes it not of Thee? Is it not like a mother's vow When, with her darling on her knee,
She weighs and numbers o'er and o'er Love's treasure hid in her fond breast, To cull from that exhaustless store The dearest blessing and the best?
And where shall mother's bosom find, With all its deep love-learned skill, A prayer so sweetly to her mind, As, in this sacred hour and still,
Is wafted from the white-robed choir, Ere yet the pure high-breathed lay, "Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire," Rise floating on its dove-like way.
And when it comes, so deep and clear The strain, so soft the melting fall, It seems not to th' entranced ear Less than Thine own heart-cheering call.
Spirit of Christ—Thine earnest given That these our prayers are heard, and they, Who grasp, this hour, the sword of Heaven, Shall feel Thee on their weary way.
Oft as at morn or soothing eve Over the Holy Fount they lean, Their fading garland freshly weave, Or fan them with Thine airs serene.
Spirit of Light and Truth! to Thee We trust them in that musing hour, Till they, with open heart and free. Teach all Thy word in all its power.
When foemen watch their tents by night, And mists hang wide o'er moor and fell, Spirit of Counsel and of Might, Their pastoral warfare guide Thou well.
And, oh! when worn and tired they sigh With that more fearful war within, When Passion's storms are loud and high, And brooding o'er remembered sin
The heart dies down—oh, mightiest then, Come ever true, come ever near, And wake their slumbering love again, Spirit of God's most holy Fear!