When God of old came down from Heaven,
In power and wrath He came;
Before His feet the clouds were riven,
Half darkness and half flame:
Around the trembling mountain's base
The prostrate people lay;
A day of wrath and not of grace;
A dim and dreadful day.
But when he came the second time,
He came in power and love,
Softer than gale at morning prime
Hovered His holy Dove.
The fires that rushed on Sinai down
In sudden torrents dread,
Now gently light, a glorious crown,
On every sainted head.
Like arrows went those lightnings forth
Winged with the sinner's doom,
But these, like tongues, o'er all the earth
Proclaiming life to come:
And as on Israel's awe-struck ear
The voice exceeding loud,
The trump, that angels quake to hear,
Thrilled from the deep, dark cloud;
So, when the Spirit of our God
Came down His flock to find,
A voice from Heaven was heard abroad,
A rushing, mighty wind.
Nor doth the outward ear alone
At that high warning start;
Conscience gives back th' appalling tone;
'Tis echoed in the heart.
It fills the Church of God; it fills
The sinful world around;
Only in stubborn hearts and wills
No place for it is found.
To other strains our souls are set:
A giddy whirl of sin
Fills ear and brain, and will not let
Heaven's harmonies come in.
Come Lord, Come Wisdom, Love, and Power,
Open our ears to hear;
Let us not miss th' accepted hour;
Save, Lord, by Love or Fear.
First Sunday After Trinity
Where is the land with milk and honey flowing,
The promise of our God, our fancy's theme?
Here over shattered walls dank weeds are growing,
And blood and fire have run in mingled stream;
Like oaks and cedars all around
The giant corses strew the ground,
And haughty Jericho's cloud-piercing wall
Lies where it sank at Joshua's trumpet call.
These are not scenes for pastoral dance at even,
For moonlight rovings in the fragrant glades,
Soft slumbers in the open eye of Heaven,
And all the listless joy of summer shades.
We in the midst of ruins live,
Which every hour dread warning give,
Nor may our household vine or fig-tree hide
The broken arches of old Canaan's pride.
Where is the sweet repose of hearts repenting,
The deep calm sky, the sunshine of the soul,
Now Heaven and earth are to our bliss consenting,
And all the Godhead joins to make us whole.
The triple crown of mercy now
Is ready for the suppliant's brow,
By the Almighty Three for ever planned,
And from behind the cloud held out by Jesus' hand.
"Now, Christians, hold your own--the land before ye
Is open--win your way, and take your rest."
So sounds our war-note; but our path of glory
By many a cloud is darkened and unblest:
And daily as we downward glide,
Life's ebbing stream on either side
Shows at each turn some mouldering hope or joy,
The Man seems following still the funeral of the Boy.
Open our eyes, Thou Sun of life and gladness,
That we may see that glorious world of Thine!
It shines for us in vain, while drooping sadness
Enfolds us here like mist: come Power benign,
Touch our chilled hearts with vernal smile,
Our wintry course do Thou beguile,
Nor by the wayside ruins let us mourn,
Who have th' eternal towers for our appointed bourne.
First Sunday After Epiphany
Lessons sweet of spring returning,
Welcome to the thoughtful heart!
May I call ye sense or learning,
Instinct pure, or Heaven-taught art?
Be your title what it may,
Sweet this lengthening April day,
While with you the soul is free,
Ranging wild o'er hill and lea.
Soft as Memnon's harp at morning,
To the inward ear devout,
Touched by light, with heavenly warning
Your transporting chords ring out.
Every leaf in every nook,
Every wave in every brook,
Chanting with a solemn voice,
Minds us of our better choice.
Needs no show of mountain hoary,
Winding shore or deepening glen,
Where the landscape in its glory
Teaches truth to wandering men:
Give true hearts but earth and sky,
And some flowers to bloom and die,
Homely scenes and simple views
Lowly thoughts may best infuse.
See the soft green willow springing
Where the waters gently pass,
Every way her free arms flinging
O'er the moist and reedy grass.
Long ere winter blasts are fled,
See her tipped with vernal red,
And her kindly flower displayed
Ere her leaf can cast a shade.
Though the rudest hand assail her,
Patiently she droops awhile,
But when showers and breezes hail her,
Wears again her willing smile.
Thus I learn Contentment's power
From the slighted willow bower,
Ready to give thanks and live
On the least that Heaven may give.
If, the quiet brooklet leaving,
Up the stony vale I wind,
Haply half in fancy grieving
For the shades I leave behind,
By the dusty wayside drear,
Nightingales with joyous cheer
Sing, my sadness to reprove,
Gladlier than in cultured grove.
Where the thickest boughs are twining
Of the greenest darkest tree,
There they plunge, the light declining -
All may hear, but none may see.
Fearless of the passing hoof,
Hardly will they fleet aloof;
So they live in modest ways,
Trust entire, and ceaseless praise.
Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Trinity
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.
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?
Fifth Sunday In Lent
The historic Muse, from age to age,
Through many a waste heart-sickening page
Hath traced the works of Man:
But a celestial call to-day
Stays her, like Moses, on her way,
The works of God to scan.
Far seen across the sandy wild,
Where, like a solitary child,
He thoughtless roamed and free,
One towering thorn was wrapt in flame -
Bright without blaze it went and came:
Who would not turn and see?
Along the mountain ledges green
The scattered sheep at will may glean
The Desert's spicy stores:
The while, with undivided heart,
The shepherd talks with God apart,
And, as he talks, adores.
Ye too, who tend Christ's wildering flock,
Well may ye gather round the rock
That once was Sion's hill:
To watch the fire upon the mount
Still blazing, like the solar fount,
Yet unconsuming still.
Caught from that blaze by wrath Divine,
Lost branches of the once-loved vine,
Now withered, spent, and sere,
See Israel's sons, like glowing brands,
Tossed wildly o'er a thousand lands
For twice a thousand year.
God will not quench nor slay them quite,
But lifts them like a beacon-light
The apostate Church to scare;
Or like pale ghosts that darkling roam,
Hovering around their ancient home,
But find no refuge there.
Ye blessed Angels! if of you
There be, who love the ways to view
Of Kings and Kingdoms here;
(And sure, 'tis worth an Angel's gaze,
To see, throughout that dreary maze,
God teaching love and fear
Oh say, in all the bleak expanse
Is there a spot to win your glance,
So bright, so dark as this?
A hopeless faith, a homeless race,
Yet seeking the most holy place,
And owning the true bliss!
Salted with fire they seem, to show
How spirits lost in endless woe
May undecaying live.
Oh, sickening thought! yet hold it fast
Long as this glittering world shall last,
Or sin at heart survive.
And hark! amid the flashing fire,
Mingling with tones of fear and ire,
Soft Mercy's undersong -
'Tis Abraham's God who speaks so loud,
His people's cries have pierced the cloud,
He sees, He sees their wrong;
He is come down to break their chain;
Though nevermore on Sion's fane
His visible ensign wave;
'Tis Sion, wheresoe'er they dwell,
Who, with His own true Israel,
Shall own Him strong to save.
He shall redeem them one by one,
Where'er the world-encircling sun
Shall see them meekly kneel:
All that He asks on Israel's part,
Is only that the captive heart
Its woe and burthen feel.
Gentiles! with fixed yet awful eye
Turn ye this page of mystery,
Nor slight the warning sound:
"Put off thy shoes from off thy feet -
The place where man his God shall meet,
Be sure, is holy ground."
St. Michael And All Angels
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!
Fourth Sunday After Trinity
It was not then a poet's dream,
An idle vaunt of song,
Such as beneath the moon's soft gleam
On vacant fancies throng;
Which bids us see in heaven and earth,
In all fair things around,
Strong yearnings for a blest new birth
With sinless glories crowned;
Which bids us hear, at each sweet pause
From care and want and toil,
When dewy eve her curtain draws
Over the day's turmoil,
In the low chant of wakeful birds,
In the deep weltering flood,
In whispering leaves, these solemn words -
"God made us all for good."
All true, all faultless, all in tune
Creation's wondrous choir,
Opened in mystic unison
To last till time expire.
And still it lasts; by day and night,
With one consenting voice,
All hymn Thy glory, Lord, aright,
All worship and rejoice.
Man only mars the sweet accord
O'erpowering with "harsh din"
The music of Thy works and word,
Ill matched with grief and sin.
Sin is with man at morning break,
And through the livelong day
Deafens the ear that fain would wake
To Nature's simple lay.
But when eve's silent footfall steals
Along the eastern sky,
And one by one to earth reveals
Those purer fires on high,
When one by one each human sound
Dies on the awful ear,
Then Nature's voice no more is drowned,
She speaks, and we must hear.
Then pours she on the Christian heart
That warning still and deep,
At which high spirits of old would start
E'en from their Pagan sleep.
Just guessing, through their murky blind
Few, faint, and baffling sight,
Streaks of a brighter heaven behind,
A cloudless depth of light.
Such thoughts, the wreck of Paradise,
Through many a dreary age,
Upbore whate'er of good and wise
Yet lived in bard or sage:
They marked what agonizing throes
Shook the great mother's womb:
But Reason's spells might not disclose
The gracious birth to come:
Nor could the enchantress Hope forecast
God's secret love and power;
The travail pangs of Earth must last
Till her appointed hour.
The hour that saw from opening heaven
Redeeming glory stream,
Beyond the summer hues of even,
Beyond the mid-day beam.
Thenceforth, to eyes of high desire,
The meanest thing below,
As with a seraph's robe of fire
Invested, burn and glow:
The rod of Heaven has touched them all,
The word from Heaven is spoken:
"Rise, shine, and sing, thou captive thrall;
Are not thy fetters broken?
"The God Who hallowed thee and blest,
Pronouncing thee all good -
Hath He not all thy wrongs redrest,
And all thy bliss renewed?
"Why mourn'st thou still as one bereft,
Now that th' eternal Son
His blessed home in Heaven hath left
To make thee all His own?"
Thou mourn'st because sin lingers still
In Christ's new heaven and earth;
Because our rebel works and will
Stain our immortal birth:
Because, as Love and Prayer grow cold,
The Saviour hides His face,
And worldlings blot the temple's gold
With uses vile and base.
Hence all thy groans and travail pains,
Hence, till thy God return,
In Wisdom's ear thy blithest strains,
Oh Nature, seem to mourn.