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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one  
sinner that repenteth.                                       St. Luke xv. 10.  
O HATEFUL spell of Sin! when friends are nigh, 
To make stern memory tell her tale unsought, 
And raise accusing shades of hours gone by, 
To come between us and all kindly thought! 

Chill'd at her touch, the self-reproaching soul, 
Flies from the heart and home she dearest loves 
To where lone mountains tower, or billows roll, 
Or to your mindless depth, ye solemn groves. 

In vain: the averted cheek in loneliest dell 
Is conscious of a gaze it cannot bear, 
The leaves that rustle near us seem to tell 
Our heart's sad secret to the silent air. 

Nor is the dream untrue: for all around 
The heavens are watching with their thousand eyes, 
We cannot pass our guardian angel's bound, 
Resign'd or sullen, he will hear our sighs. 

He in the mazes of the budding wood 
Is near, and mourns to see our thankless glance 
Dwell coldly, where the fresh green earth is strew'd 
With the first flowers that lead the vernal dance. 

In wasteful bounty shower'd, they smile unseen, 
Unseen by man--but what if purer sprights 
By moonlight o'er their dewy bosoms lean 
To' adore the Father of all gentle lights? 

If such there be, O grief and shame to think 
That sight of thee should overcloud their joy, 
A newborn soul, just waiting on the brink 
Of endless life, yet wrapt in earth's annoy! 

O turn, and be thou turn'd! the selfish tear, 
In bitter thoughts of low born care begun, 
Let it flow on, but flow refin'd and clear, 
The turbid waters brightening as they run. 

Let it flow on, till all thine earthly heart 
In penitential drops have ebb'd away, 
Then fearless turn where Heaven hath set thy part, 
Nor shudder at the eye that saw thee stray. 

O lost and found! all gentle souls below 
Their dearest welcome shall prepare, and prove 
Such joy o'er thee, as raptur'd seraphs know, 
Who learn their lesson at the throne of love. 

Used with permission from the Project Canterbury website.