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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face.  Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God.                             EZEKIEL xx. 35, 36

It is so--ope thine eyes, and see-- 
        What view'st thou all around? 
A desert, where iniquity 
        And knowledge both abound.

In the waste howling wilderness 
        The Church is wandering still [Rev. xiii.14.], 
 Because we would not onward press 
        When close to Sion's hill. 

Back to the world we faithless turn'd, 
        And far along the wild, 
With labour lost and sorrow earn'd, 
        Our steps have been beguil'd. 

Yet full before us, all the while, 
        The shadowing pillar stays, 
The living waters brightly smile, 
        Th' eternal turrets blaze. 

Yet Heaven is raining angels' bread 
        To be our daily food, 
And fresh, as when it first was shed, 
        Springs forth the SAVIOUR'S blood. 

From every region, race, and speech, 
        Believing myriads throng, 
Till, far as sin and sorrow reach, 
        Thy grace is spread along; 

Till sweetest nature, brightest art, 
        Their votive incense bring, 
And every voice and every heart 
        Own Thee their GOD and King. 

All own; but few, alas! will love; 
        Too like the recreant band 
That with Thy patient Spirit strove 
        Upon the Red-sea strand. 

O Father of long-suffering grace, 
        Thou who hast sworn to stay 
Pleading with sinners face to face 
        Through all their devious way, 

How shall we speak to Thee, O LORD
        Or how in silence lie? 
Look on us, and we are abhorr'd, 
        Turn from us, and we die. 

Thy guardian fire, Thy guiding cloud, 
        Still let them gild our wall, 
Nor be our foes and Thine allow'd 
        To see us faint and fall. 

Too oft, within this camp of Thine, 
        Rebellious murmurs rise; 
Sin cannot bear to see Thee shine 
        So awful to her eyes. 
Fain would our lawless hearts escape, 
        And with the heathen be, 
To worship every monstrous shape 
        In fancied darkness free. [Ez xx. 32] 

Vain thought, that shall not be at all! 
        Refuse we or obey, 
Our ears have heard th' Almighty's call, 
        We cannot be as they. 

Weak tremblers on the edge of woe, 
        Yet shrinking from true bliss, 
Our rest must be "no rest below," 
        And let our prayer be this: 

"Lord, wave again Thy chastening rod, 
        "Till every idol throne 
"Crumble to dust, and Thou, O God, 
        "Reign in our hearts alone. 

"Bring all our wandering fancies home, 
        "For Thou hast every spell, 
"And 'mid the heathen where they roam, 
        "Thou knowest, Lord, too well. 

"Thou know'st our service sad and hard, 
        "Thou know'st us fond and frail;-- 
"Win us to be belov'd and spar'd 
        "When all the world shall fail. 

"When in Thy love and Isael's sin 
        "We read our story true, 
"We may not, all too late, begin 
        "To wish our hopes were new: 

"Long lov'd, long tried, long spar'd as they, 
        "Unlike in this alone, 
"That, by Thy grace, our hearts shall stay 
        "For evermore Thine own."