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The Christian Year

by Blessed John Keble 


If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell you of heavenly things?

                                                                    St. John iii. 12

CREATOR, Saviour, strengthening Guide, 
Now on Thy mercy’s ocean wide 
Far out of sight we seem to glide. 

Help us, each hour, with steadier eye 
To search the deepening mystery, 
The wonders of Thy sea and sky. 

The blessed angels look and long 
To praise Thee with a worthier song, 
And yet our silence does Thee wrong.— 

Along the Church’s central space 
The sacred weeks with unfelt pace 
Have borne us on from grace to grace. 

As travellers on some woodland height, 
When wintry suns are gleaming bright, 
Lose in arch’d glades their tangled sight;— 

By glimpses such as dreamers love 
Through her grey veil the leafless grove 
Shews where the distant shadows rove;— 

Such trembling joy the soul o’er-awes 
As nearer to thy shrine she draws:— 
And now before the choir we pause. 

The door is clos’d—but soft and deep 
Around the awful arches sweep 
Such airs as soothe a hermit’s sleep. 

From each carv’d nook and fretted bend 
Cornice and gallery seem to send 
Tones that with seraph hymns might blend. 

Three solemn parts together twine 
In harmony’s mysterious line; 
Three solemn aisles approach the shrine: 

Yet all are One—together all, 
In thoughts that awe but not appal, 
Teach the adoring heart to fall. 

Within these walls each fluttering guest 
Is gently lur’d to one safe nest— 
Without, ‘tis moaning and unrest. 

The busy world a thousand ways 
Is hurrying by, nor ever stays 
To catch a note of Thy dear praise. 

Why tarries not her chariot wheel, 
That o’er her with no vain appeal 
One gust of heavenly song might steal? 

Alas! for her Thy opening flowers 
Unheeded breathe to summer showers, 
Unheard the music of Thy bowers. 

What echoes from the sacred dome 
The selfish spirit may o’er-come 
That will not hear of love or home? 

The heart that scorn’d a father’s care, 
How can it rise in filial prayer? 
How an all-seeing Guardian bear? 

Or how shall envious brethren own 
A Brother on th’ eternal throne, 
Their Father’s joy, that hope alone? 

How shall thy Spirit’s gracious wile 
The sullen brow of gloom beguile, 
That frowns on sweet affection’s smile? 

Eternal One, Almighty Trine! 
(Since Thou art ours, and we are Thine) 
By all thy love did once resign, 

By all the grace thy heavens still hide, 
We pray thee, keep us at thy side, 
Creator, Saviour, strengthening Guide! 

Used with permission from the Canterbury Project Website.  Transcribed by Julia Beth Bruskin, AD 1999.