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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart and putteth the stumbling-block of his iniquity before his face, and  cometh to the Prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh  according to the multitude of his idols.                                                                                                 EZEKIEL xiv. 4.   

STATELY thy walls, and holy are the prayers 
   Which day and night before thine altars rise; 
Not statelier, towering o'er her marble stairs, 
   Flash'd Sion's gilded dome to summer skies, 
Not holier, while around him angels bow'd, 
From Aaron's censer steam'd the spicy cloud, 

Before the mercy seat.  O Mother dear, 
   Wilt thou forgive thy son one boding sigh? 
Forgive, if round thy towers he walk in fear, 
   And tell thy jewels o'er with jealous eye? 
Mindful of that sad vision, which in thought [Ezekiel 8:3] 
From Chebar's plains the captive prophet brought 

To see lost Sion's shame.  'Twas morning prime, 
   And like a Queen new seated on her throne, 
God's crowned mountain, as in happier time, 
   Seem'd to rejoice in sunshine all her own: 
So bright, while all in shade around her lay, 
Her northern pinnacles had caught th'emerging ray. 

The dazzling lines of her majestic roof 
   Cross'd with as free a span the vault of heaven, 
As when twelve tribes knelt silently aloof 
   Ere God his answer to their king had given, [1 Kg 8:5] 
Ere yet upon the new-built altar fell 
The glory of the Lord, the Lord of Israel. 

All seems the same: but enter in and see 
   What idol shapes are on the wall pourtray'd: [Ez 8:10] 
And watch their shameless and unholy glee, 
   Who worship there in Aaron's robes array'd: 
Hear Judah's maids the dirge to Thammuz pour, [Ez 8:14] 
And mark her chiefs yon orient sun adore. [Ez 8:16] 

Yet turn thee, son of man--for worse than these 
   Thou must behold: thy loathing were but lost 
On dead men's crimes, and Jew's idolatries-- 
   Come, learn to tell aright thine own sins' cost,-- 
And sure their sin as far from equals thine, 
As earthly hopes abus'd are less than hopes divine. 

What if within His world, His Church, our Lord 
   Have enter'd thee, as in some temple gate, 
Where, looking round, each glance might thee afford 
   Some glorious earnest of thine high estate, 
And thou, false heart and frail, hast turn'd from all 
To worship pleasure's shadow on the wall? 

If, when the Lord of Glory was in sight, 
   Thou turn thy back upon that fountain clear, 
To bow before the "little drop of light," 
   Which dim-eyed men call praise and glory here; 
What dost thou, but adore the sun, and scorn 
Him at whose only word both sun and stars were born? 

If, while around thee gales from Eden breathe, 
   Thou hide thine eyes, to make thy peevish moan 
Over some broken reed of earth beneath, 
   Some darling of blind fancy dead and gone, 
As wisely mightst thou in Jehovah's fane 
Offer thy love and tears to Thammuz slain. 

Turn thee from these, or dare not to enquire 
   Of Him whose name is Jealous, lest in wrath 
He hear and answer thine unblest desire: 
   Far better we should cross His lightening's path 
Than be accorded to our idols heard, 
And God should take us at our own vain word. 

Thou who hast deign'd the Christian's heart to call 
   Thy Church and Shrine: whene'er our rebel will 
Would in that chosen home of Thine instal 
   Belial or Mammon, grant us not the ill 
We blindly ask; in very love refuse 
Whate'er Thou know'st our weakness would abuse. 

Or rather help us, Lord, to choose the good, 
   To pray for nought, to seek to none, but Thee, 
Nor by "our daily bread" mean common food, 
   Nor say, "From this world's evil set us free;" 
Teach us to love, with Christ, our sole true bliss, 
Else, though in Christ's own words, we surely pray amiss.