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The Christian Year

by Blessed John Keble 


Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,  
neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities  
have separated between you and your God.  
                                   Isaiah 1ix. 1, 2.  
"WAKE, arm divine! awake, 
"Eye of the only Wise! 
"Now for thy glory’s sake, 
"Saviour and God, arise, 
"And may thine ear, that sealed seems, 
"In pity mark our mournful themes!" 

Thus in her lonely hour 
Thy Church is fain to cry, 
As if thy love and power 
Were vanish’d from her sky; 
Yet God is there, and at his side 
He triumphs, who for sinners died. 

Ah! ‘tis the world enthralls 
The heaven betrothed breast: 
The traitor Sense recalls 
The soaring soul from rest. 
That bitter sigh was all for earth, 
For glories gone, and vanish’d mirth. 

Age would to youth return, 
Farther from heaven would be, 
To feel the wildfire burn, 
On idolizing knee 
Again to fall, and rob thy shrine 
Of hearts, the right of love divine. 

Lord of this wandering flock! 
Thou whose soft showers distil 
On ocean waste or rock, 
Free as on Hermon hill, 
Do thou our craven spirits cheer, 
And shame away the selfish tear. 

‘Twas silent all and dead 
Beside the barren sea, 
Where Philip’s steps were led, 
Led by a voice from Thee— 
He rose and went, nor ask’d Thee why, 
Nor stayed to heave one faithless sigh; 

Upon his lonely way 
The high-born traveller came, 
Reading a mournful lay 
Of "One who bore our shame, 
"Silent himself, his name untold, 
"And yet his glories were of old." 

To muse what Heaven might mean 
His wondering brow he rais’d, 
And met an eye serene 
That on him watchful gaz’d. 
No wanderer e’er so welcome cross’d 
A child’s lone path in woodland lost. 

Now wonder turns to love; 
The scrolls of sacred lore 
No darksome mazes prove; 
The desert tires no more: 
They bathe where holy waters flow, 
Then on their way rejoicing go. 

They part to meet in heaven: 
But of the joy they share, 
Absolving and forgiven, 
The sweet remembrance bear. 
Where now that statesman, cold and proud, 
Bewilder’d in a heartless crowd, 

Starting and turning pale 
At Rumour’s angry din? 
No storm can now assail 
The charm he wears within, 
Rejoicing still, and doing good, 
And with the thought of God imbu’d. 

No glare of high estate, 
No gloom of woe or want, 
The radiance can abate 
Where heaven delights to haunt. 
Sin only hides the genial ray, 
And, round the cross, makes night of day. 

Then weep it from thy heart; 
So may’st thou duly learn 
The intercessor’s part, 
Thy prayers and tears may earn 
For fallen souls some healing breath, 
Ere they have died th’ Apostate’s death.