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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the firs?  They answered and said unto the king, True, O king.  He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.  DANIEL iii. 24, 25.

When Persecution's torrent blaze
   Wraps the unshrinking Martyr's head;
When fade all earthly flowers and bays,
   When summer friends are gone and fled,
Is he alone in that dark hour
Who owns the Lord of love and power?

Or waves there not around his brow
   A wand no human arm may wield,
Fraught with a spell no angels know,
   His steps to guide, his soul to shield?
Thou, Saviour, art his Charmed Bower,
His Magic Ring, his Rock, his Tower.

And when the wicked ones behold
   Thy favourites walking in Thy light,
Just as, in fancied triumph bold,
   They deem'd them lost in deadly night,
Amaz'd they cry, "What spell is this,
"Which turns their sufferings all to bliss?

"How are they free whom we had bound?
   "Upright, whom in the gulf we cast?
"What wondrous helper have they found
   "To screen them from the scorching blast?
"Three were they -- who hath made them four?
"And sure a form divine he wore,

"Even like the Son of God."  So cried
   The Tyrant, when in one fierce flame
The Martyrs liv'd, the murderers died:
   Yet knew he not what angel came
To make the rushing fire-flood seem
Like summer breeze by woodland stream.
[Note: Song of the Three Children, ver. 27.  As it had been a moist whistling wind.]

He knew not, but there are who know:
   The Matron, who alone hath stood,
When not a prop seem'd left below,
   The first lorn hour of widowhood,
Yet cheer'd and cheering all, the while,
With sad but unaffected smile;--

The Father, who his vigil keeps
   By the sad couch whence hope has flown,
Watching the eye where reason sleeps,
   Yet in his heart can mercy own,
Still sweetly yielding to the rod,
Still loving man, still thanking GOD;--

The Christian Pastor, bow'd to earth
   With thankless toil, and vile esteem'd,
Still travailing in second birth
   Of souls that will not be redeem'd,
Yet stedfast set to do his part,
And fearing most his own vain heart;--

These know: on these look long and well,
   Cleansing thy sight by prayer and faith,
And thou shalt know what secret spell
   Preserves them in their living death:
Through sevenfold flames thine eye shall see
The Saviour walking with His faithful Three.