Home      Back to Advent 3




The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


WHAT went ye out to see 
O’er the rude sandy lea, 
Whose stately Jordan flows by many a palm, 
Or where Gennesaret’s wave 
Delights the flowers to lave, 
That o’er her western slope breathe airs of balm? 

All through the summery night 
Those blossoms red and bright 
Spread their soft breasts, unheeding, to the breeze, 
Like hermits watching still 
Around the sacred hill, 
Where erst our Saviour watch’d upon his knees. 

The Paschal moon above 
Seems like a saint to rove, 
Left shining in the world with Christ alone; 
Below, the lake’s still face 
Sleeps sweetly in th’embrace 
Of mountains terras’d high with mossy stone. 

Here may we sit, and dream 
Over the heavenly theme, 
Till to our soul the former days return; 
Till on the grassy bed, 
Where thousands once He fed, 
The world’s incarnate maker we again discern. 

O cross no more the main, 
Wandering so wild and vain, 
To count the reeds that tremble in the wind, 
On listless dalliance bound, 
Like children gazing round, 
Who on God’s works no seal of Godhead find: 

Bask not in courtly bower, 
Or sun-bright hall of power, 
Pass Babel quick, and seek the holy land— 
From robes of Tyrian die 
Turn with undazzled eye 
To Bethlehem’s glade, or Carmel’s haunted strand. 

Or choose thee out a cell 
In Kedron’s storied dell, 
Beside the springs of Love, that never die, 
Among the olives kneel 
The chill night-blast to feel, 
And watch the Moon that saw thy Master’s agony. 

Then rise at dawn of day, 
And wind thy thoughtful way, 
Where rested once the Temple’s stately shade, 
With due feet tracing round 
The city’s northern bound, 
To th’other holy garden, where the Lord was laid. 

Who thus alternate see 
His death and victory, 
Rising and falling as on angel wings, 
They, while they seem to roam, 
Draw daily nearer home, 
Their heart untravell’d still adores the King of kings. 

Or, if at home they stay, 
Yet are they, day by day, 
In spirit journeying through the glorious land, 
Not for light Fancy’s reed, 
Nor honour’s purple meed, 
Nor gifted Prophet’s lore, nor Science’ wondrous wand. 

But more than Prophet, more 
Than Angels can adore 
With face unveil’d, is He they go to seek: 
Blessed be God, whose grace 
Shews him in every place 
To homeliest hearts of pilgrims pure and meek.