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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 



He is despised and rejected of men. Isaiah liii. 3. 

IS it not strange, the darkest hour 
That ever dawn’d on sinful earth 
Should touch the heart with softer power 
For comfort, than an angel’s mirth? 
That to the Cross the mourner’s eye should turn 
Sooner than where the stars of Christmas burn? 

Sooner than where the Easter sun 
Shines glorious on you open grave, 
And to and fro the tidings run, 
"Who died to heal, is ris’n to save." 
Sooner than where upon the Saviour’s friends 
The very Comforter in light and love descends. 

Yet so it is: for duly there 
The bitter herbs of earth are set, 
Till temper’d by the Saviour’s prayer, 
And with the Saviour’s life-blood wet, 
They turn to sweetness, and drop holy balm, 
Soft as imprison’d martyr’s deathbed calm. 

All turn to sweet—but most of all 
That bitterest to the lip of pride, 
When hopes presumptuous fade and fall, 
Or Friendship scorns us, duly tried, 
Or Love, the flower that closes up for fear 
When rude and selfish spirits breathe too near. 

Then like a long-forgotten strain 
Comes sweeping o’er the heart forlorn 
What sunshine hours had taught in vain 
Of JESUS suffering shame and scorn, 
As in all lowly hearts he suffers still, 
While we triumphant ride and have the world at will. 

His pierced hands in vain would hide 
His face from rude reproachful gaze, 
His ears are open to abide 
The wildest storm the tongue can raise, 
He who with one rough word, some early day, 
Their idol world and them shall sweep for aye away. 

But we by Fancy may assuage 
The festering sore by Fancy made, 
Down in some lonely hermitage 
Like wounded pilgrims safely laid. 
Where gentlest breezes whisper souls distress’d, 
That Love yet lives, and Patience shall find rest. 

O shame beyond the bitterest thought 
That evil spirit ever fram’d, 
That sinners know what Jesus wrought, 
Yet feel their haughty hearts untam’d— 
That souls in refuge, holding by the Cross, 
Should wince and fret at this world’s little loss. 

Lord of my heart, by thy last cry, 
Let not thy blood on earth be spent— 
Lo, at thy feet I fainting lie, 
Mine eyes upon thy wounds are bent, 
Upon thy streaming wounds my weary eyes 
Wait like the parched earth on April skies. 

Wash me, and dry these bitter tears, 
O let my heart no further roam, 
‘Tis thine by vows, and hopes, and fears, 
Long since—O call thy wanderer home; 
To that dear home, safe in thy wounded side, 
Where only broken hearts their sin and shame may hide. 

Transcribed by Miss Julia Beth Bruskin AD 1999. 
Used with permission from the Project Canterbury website.