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The Christian Year

by Blessed John Keble 


And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net: and when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes, so that their net brake.                St. Luke v. 5. 

"The livelong night we’ve toiled in vain, 
"But at thy gracious word 
"I will let down the net again 
"Do thou thy will, O Lord!" 

So spake the weary fisher, spent 
With bootless darkling toil, 
Yet on his Master’s bidding bent 
For love and not for spoil. 

So day by day and week by week, 
In sad and weary thought, 
They muse, whom God hath set to seek 
The souls his Christ hath bought. 

For not upon a tranquil lake 
Our pleasant task we ply, 
Where all along our glistening wake 
The softest moonbeams lie; 

Where rippling wave and dashing oar 
Our midnight chant attend, 
Or whispering palm-leaves from the shore 
With midnight silence blend. 

Sweet thoughts of peace, ye may not last: 
Too soon some ruder sound 
Calls us from where ye soar so fast 
Back to our earthly round. 

For wildest storms our ocean sweep 
No anchor but the cross 
Might hold: and oft the thankless deep 
Turns all our toil to loss. 

Full many a dreary anxious hour, 
We watch our nets alone 
In drenching spray, and driving shower, 
And hear the night-bird’s moan 

At morn we look, and nought is there; 
Sad night brings cheerless day. 
Who then from pining and despair 
The sickening heart can stay? 

There is a stay—and we are strong 
Our Master is at hand, 
To cheer our solitary song, 
And guide us to the strand, 

In his own time: but yet awhile 
Our bark at sea must ride; 
Cast after cast, by force or guile 
All waters must be tried. 

By blameless guile or gentle force, 
As when He deign’d to teach 
(The load-star of our Christian course) 
Upon this sacred beach. 

Should e’er thy wonder-working grace 
Triumph by our weak arm, 
Let not our sinful fancy trace 
Aught human in the charm: 

To our own nets ne’er bow we down, 
Lest on the eternal shore 
The angels, while our draught they own, 
Reject us evermore: 

Or, if for our unworthiness 
Toil, prayer, and watching fail, 
In disappointment Thou canst bless, 
So love at heart prevail. 

Used with permission from the Project Canterbury website.  Transcribed by Mr. Allan R. Wylie, AD 2000.