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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 
When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face, that thou 
appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret.
St. Matthew vi. 17.
"YES—deep within and deeper yet 
"The rankling shaft of conscience hide. 
"Quick let the swelling eye forget 
"The tears that in the heart abide. 
"Calm be the voice, the aspect bold, 
"No shuddering pass o’er lip or brow, 
"For why should Innocence be told 
"The pangs that guilty spirits bow? 

"The loving eye that watches thine 
"Close as the air that wraps thee round— 
"Why in thy sorrow should it pine, 
"Since never of thy sin it found? 
"And wherefore should the heathen see 
"What chains of darkness thee enslave, 
"And mocking say, Lo, this is he 
"Who own’d a God that could not save?" 

Thus oft the mourner’s wayward heart 
Tempts him to hide his grief and die, 
Too feeble for Confession’s smart, 
Too proud to bear a pitying eye; 
How sweet, in that dark hour, to fall 
On bosoms waiting to receive 
Our sighs, and gently whisper all! 
They love us—will not God forgive? 

Else let us keep our fast within, 
Till Heaven and we are quite alone, 
Then let the grief, the shame, the sin, 
Before the mercy-seat be thrown. 
Between the porch and altar weep, 
Unworthy of the holiest place, 
Yet hoping near the shrine to keep 
One lowly cell in sight of grace. 

Nor fear lest sympathy should fail— 
Hast thou not seen, in night-hours drear, 
When racking thoughts the heart assail, 
The glimmering stars by turns appear, 
And from th’ eternal home above 
With silent news of mercy steal? 
So Angels pause on tasks of love, 
To look where sorrowing sinners kneel 

Or if no Angel pass that way, 
He who in secret sees, perchance 
May bid his won heart-warming ray 
Toward thee stream with kindlier glance, 
As when upon his drooping head 
His Father’s light was pour’d from Heaven, 
What time, unshelter’d and unfed, 
Far in the wild His steps were driven. 

High thoughts were with Him in that hour, 
Untold, unspeakable on earth— 
And who can stay the soaring power 
Of spirits wean’d from worldly mirth, 
While far beyond the sound of praise 
With upward eye they float serene, 
And learn to bear their Saviour’s blaze 
When Judgment shall undraw the screen.