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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestations of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.                                                               ROMANS viii. 19—22. 
IT was not then a poet’s dream, 
        An idle vaunt of song, 
Such as beneath the moon’s soft gleam 
        On vacant fancies throng; 

Which bids us see in heaven and earth, 
        In all fair things around, 
Strong yearnings for a blest new birth 
        With sinless glories crown’d 

Which bids us hear, at each sweet pause 
        From care and want and toil, 
When dewy eve her curtain draws 
        Over the day’s turmoil, 

In the low chant of wakeful birds, 
        In the deep weltering flood, 
In whispering leaves, these solemn words— 
        “God made us all for good.” 

All true, all faultless, all in tune, 
        Creation’s wondrous choir, 
Open’d in mystic unison 
        To last till time expire. 

And still it lasts: by day and night, 
        With one consenting voice, 
All hymn Thy glory, Lord, aright, 
        All worship and rejoice. 

Man only mars the sweet accord, 
        O’erpowering with “harsh din” 
The music of Thy works and word, 
        Ill match’d with grief and sin. 

Sin is with man at morning break, 
        And through the live-long day 
Deafens the ear that fain would wake 
        To Nature’s simple lay. 

But when eve’s silent foot-fall steals 
        Along the eastern sky, 
And one by one to earth reveals 
        Those purer fires on high, 

When one by one each human sound 
        Dies on the awful ear, 
Then Nature’s voice no more is drown’d, 
        She speaks, and we must hear. 

Then pours she on the Christian heart 
        That warning still and deep, 
At which high spirits of old would start 
        E’en from their Pagan sleep, 

Just guessing, through their murky blind. 
        Few, faint, and baffling sight, 
Streaks of a brighter heaven behind, 
        A cloudless depth of light. 

Such thoughts, the wreck of Paradise 
        Through many a dreary age, 
Upbore whate’er of good and wise 
        Yet liv’d in bard or sage: 

They mark’d what agonizing throes 
        Shook the great mother’s womb 
But Reason’s spells might not disclose 
        The gracious birth to come; 

Nor could th’ enchantress Hope forecast 
        God’s secret love and power; 
The travail pangs of Earth must last 
        Till her appointed hour; 

The hour that saw from opening heaven 
        Redeeming glory stream, 
Beyond the summer hues of even, 
        Beyond the mid-day beam. 

Thenceforth, to eyes of high desire, 
        The meanest things below, 
As with a seraph’s robe of fire 
        Invested, burn and glow: 

The rod of Heaven has touch’d them all, 
        The word from Heaven is spoken; 
“Rise, shine, and sing, thou captive thrall: 
        “Are not thy fetters broken? 

“The God Who hallow’d thee and blest, 
        “Pronouncing thee all good— 
“Hath He not all thy wrongs redrest, 
        “And all thy bliss renew’d? 

"Why mourn’st thou still as one bereft, 
        “Now that th’eternal Son 
“His blessed home in Heaven hath left 
        “To make thee all His own?” 

Thou mourn’st because Sin lingers still 
        In Christ’s new heaven and earth: 
Because our rebel works and will 
        Stain our immortal birth: 

Because, as Love and Prayer grow cold, 
        The Saviour hides His face, 
And wordlings blot the temple’s gold 
        With uses vile and base. 

Hence all thy groans and travail pains, 
        Hence, till thy God return, 
In Wisdom’s ear thy blithest strains, 
        Oh Nature, seem to mourn.