Practising The Anthem
A summer wind blows through the open porch,
And, 'neath the rustling eaves,
A summer light of moonrise, calm and pale,
Shines through a vale of leaves.
The soft gusts bring a scent of summer flowers,
Fresh with the falling dew,
And round the doorway, glimmering white as snow,
The tender petals strew.
Clear through the silence, from a reedy pool
The curlew's whistle thrills;
A lonely mopoke sorrowfully cries
From the far-folding hills.
O lovely night, and yet so sad and strange!
My fingers touch the key;
And down the empty church my Christmas song
Goes ringing, glad and free.
Each sweet note knocks at dreaming memory's door,
And memory wakes in pain;
The spectral faces she had turn'd away
Come crowding in again.
The air seems full of music all around—
I know not what I hear,
The multitudinous echoes of the past,
Or these few voices near.
Ah me! the dim aisle vaguely widens out,
I see me stand therein;
A glory of grey sculpture takes the light
A winter morn brings in.
No more I smell the fragrant jessamine flowers
That flake a moonlit floor;
The rustling night-breeze and the open porch
I hear and see no more.
Great solemn windows, down a long, long nave
Their shadow'd rainbows fling;
Dark Purbeck shafts, with hoary capitals,
In carven archways spring.
And overhead the throbbing organ waves
Roll in one mighty sea,
Bearing the song the herald angels sang
Of Christ's nativity.
Dear hands touch mine beneath the open book,
Sweet eyes look in my face,—
They smile, they melt in darkness; I am snatch'd
From my familiar place.
The summer night-wind blows upon my tears;
Its flowery scent is pain.
O cold, white day! O noble minster—when
May I come back again!
To hear the angels' anthem shake the air,
Where never discord jars,—
The Christmas carols in the windy street,
Under the frosty stars;
The dream-like falling from the still, grey skies,
With falling flakes of snow,
Of mellow chimes from old cathedral bells,
Solemn and sweet and slow.
To hear loved footsteps beating time with mine
Along the churchyard path,—
To see that ring of faces once again
Drawn round the blazing hearth.
When may I come? O Lord, when may I go?
Nay, I must wait Thy will.
Give patience, Lord, and in Thine own best way
My hopes and prayers fulfil.