"The livelong night we’ve toiled in vain,
"But at thy gracious word
"I will let down the net again
"Do thou thy will, O Lord!"
So spake the weary fisher, spent
With bootless darkling toil,
Yet on his Master’s bidding bent
For love and not for spoil.
So day by day and week by week,
In sad and weary thought,
They muse, whom God hath set to seek
The souls his Christ hath bought.
For not upon a tranquil lake
Our pleasant task we ply,
Where all along our glistening wake
The softest moonbeams lie;
Where rippling wave and dashing oar
Our midnight chant attend,
Or whispering palm-leaves from the shore
With midnight silence blend.
Sweet thoughts of peace, ye may not last:
Too soon some ruder sound
Calls us from where ye soar so fast
Back to our earthly round.
For wildest storms our ocean sweep
No anchor but the cross
Might hold: and oft the thankless deep
Turns all our toil to loss.
Full many a dreary anxious hour,
We watch our nets alone
In drenching spray, and driving shower,
And hear the night-bird’s moan
At morn we look, and nought is there;
Sad night brings cheerless day.
Who then from pining and despair
The sickening heart can stay?
There is a stay—and we are strong
Our Master is at hand,
To cheer our solitary song,
And guide us to the strand,
In his own time: but yet awhile
Our bark at sea must ride;
Cast after cast, by force or guile
All waters must be tried.
By blameless guile or gentle force,
As when He deign’d to teach
(The load-star of our Christian course)
Upon this sacred beach.
Should e’er thy wonder-working grace
Triumph by our weak arm,
Let not our sinful fancy trace
Aught human in the charm:
To our own nets ne’er bow we down,
Lest on the eternal shore
The angels, while our draught they own,
Reject us evermore:
Or, if for our unworthiness
Toil, prayer, and watching fail,
In disappointment Thou canst bless,
So love at heart prevail.