The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble
AWAKE—again the Gospel-trump is blown—
From year to year it swells with louder tone,
From year to year the signs of wrath
Are gathering round the Judge's path,
Strange words fulfill'd, and mighty works achiev'd,
And truth in all the world both hated and believ'd.
Awake! why linger in the gorgeous town,
Sworn liegemen of the Cross and thorny crown?
Up from your beds of sloth for shame,
Speed to the eastern mount like flame,
Nor wonder, should ye find your King in tears
Even with the loud Hosanna ringing in his ears.
Alas! no need to rouse them: long ago
They are gone forth, to swell Messiah's show:
With glittering robes and garlands sweet
They strew the ground beneath his feet:
All but your hearts are there—O set to prove
True confessors in faith, worst hypocrites in love!
Meanwhile he paces through th' adoring crowd,
Calm as the march of some majestic cloud,
That o'er wild scenes of ocean-war
Holds its still course in heaven afar:
Even so, heart-searching Lord, as years roll on,
Thou keepest silent watch from thy triumphal throne.
Even so, the world is thronging round to gaze
On the dread vision of the latter days,
Constrain'd to own Thee, but in heart
Prepared to take Barabbas' part:
"Hosanna" now, to-morrow "Crucify,"
The changeful burden still of their rude lawless cry.
Yet in that throng of selfish hearts untrue
Thy sad eye rests upon thy faithful few,
Children and childlike souls are there,
Blind Bartimeus' humble prayer,
And Lazarus waken'd from his four days' sleep,
Enduring life again, that Passover to keep.
And fast beside the olive-border'd way
Stands the bless'd home, where Jesus deign'd to stay,
The peaceful home, to zeal sincere
And heavenly contemplation dear,
When Martha lov'd to wait with reverence meet,
And wiser Mary linger'd at thy sacred feet.
Still through decaying ages as they glide,
Thou lov'st thy chosen remnant to divide;
Sprinkled along the waste of years
Full many a soft green isle appears:
Pause where we may upon the desert road,
Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode.
When withering blasts of error swept the sky,
And Love's last flower seem'd fain to droop and die,
How sweet, how lone the ray benign
On shelter'd nooks of Palestine!
Then to his early home did Love repair,
And cheer'd his sickening heart with his own native air.
Years roll away: again the tide of crime
Has swept thy footsteps from the favour'd clime.
Where shall the holy Cross find rest?
On a crown'd monarch's mailed breast:
Like some bright angel o'er the darkling scene,
Through court and camp he holds his heavenward course
A fouler vision yet; an age of light,
Light without love, glares on the aching sight:
O who can tell how calm and sweet,
Meek Walton! shews thy green retreat,
When wearied with the tale thy times disclose,
The eye first finds thee out in thy secure repose?
Thus bad and good their several warnings give
Of His approach, whom none may see and live:
Faith's ear, with awful still delight,
Counts them like minute bells at night,
Keeping the heart awake till dawn of morn,
While to her funeral pile this aged world is borne.
But what are heaven's alarms to hearts that cower
In wilful slumber, deepening every hour,
That draw their curtains closer round,
The nearer swells the trumpet's sound?
Lord, ere our trembling lamps sink down and die,
Touch us with chastening hand, and make us feel Thee