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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down. 
                             Isaiah xxxviii. 8. Cf. Josh. x. 13.

‘TIS true, of old th’unchanging sun
His daily course refus’d to run,
The pale moon hurrying to the west
Paus’d at a mortal’s call, to aid
Th’avenging storm of war, that laid
Seven guilty realms at once on earth’s defiled breast.

But can it be, one suppliant tear
Should stay the ever-moving sphere?
A sick man’s lowly breathed sigh,
When from the world he turns away,
And hides his weary eyes to pray,
Should change your mystic dance, ye wanderers of the sky?

We too, O Lord, would fain command,
As then, thy wonder-working hand,
And backward force the waves of Time,
That now so swift and silent bear
Our restless bark from year to year:
Help us to pause and mourn to Thee our tale of crime.

Bright hopes, that erst the bosom warm’d,
And bows, too pure to be perform’d,
And prayer blown wide by gales of care;—
These, and such faint half waking dreams,
Like stormy lights on mountain streams,
Wavering and broken all, athwart the conscience glare.

How shall we ‘scape th’o’erwhelming past?
Can spirits broken, joys o’ercast,
And eyes that never more may smile:—
Can these th’avenging bolt delay,
Or win us back one little day
The bitterness of death to soften and beguile!

Father and Lover of our souls!
Though darkly round thine anger rolls,
Thy sunshine smiles beneath the gloom,
Thou seek’st to warn us, not confound,
Thy showers would pierce the harden’d ground,
And win it to give out its brightness and perfume.

Thou smil’st on us in wrath, and we,
Even in remorse, would smile on Thee;
The tears that bathe our offer’d hearts,
We would not have them stain’d and dim,
But dropp’d from wings of seraphim,
All glowing with the light accepted Love imparts.

Time’s waters will not ebb, nor stay,
Power cannot change them, but Love may,
What cannot be, Love counts it done.
Deep in the heart, her searching view
Can read where Faith is fix’d and true,
Through shades of setting life can see Heaven’s work begun.

O Thou, who keep’st the Key of Love,
Open thy fount, eternal Dove,
And overflow this heart of mine,
Enlarging as it fills with Thee,
Till in one blaze of charity
Care and remorse are lost, like motes in light divine.

Till, as each moment wafts us higher,
By every gush of pure desire,
And high-breath’d hopes of joys above,
By every sacred sigh we heave,
Whole years of folly we outlive,
In his unerring sight, who measures Life by Love

Used with permission from the Project Canterbury website.  Transcribed by Miss Julia Beth Bruskin AD 1999