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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the 
fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  1 KINGS xix. 12.
IN troublous days of anguish and rebuke,
While sadly round them Israel’s children look, 
   And their eyes fail for waiting on their Lord:
While underneath each awful arch of green, 
On every mountain-top, God’s chosen scene 
   Of pure heart-worship, Baal is ador’d:

‘Tis well, true hearts should for a time retire 
To holy ground, in quiet to aspire
   Towards promis’d regions of serener grace; 
On Horeb, with Elijah, let us lie,
Where all around on mountain, sand, and sky,
   God’s chariot-wheels have left distinctest trace:

There, if in jealousy and strong disdain 
We to the sinner’s God of sin complain,
   Untimely seeking here the peace of Heaven— 
“It is enough, O Lord! now let me die 
“Even as my fathers did: for what am I
   “That I should stand, where they have vainly striven?”

Perhaps our God may of our conscience ask,
“What doest thou here, frail wanderer from thy “task?”
   “Where hast thou left those few sheep in the wild?”a
Then should we plead our heart’s consuming pain, 
At sight of ruin’d altars, prophets slain,
   And God’s own ark with blood of souls defil’d;

He on the rock may bid us stand, and see 
The outskirts of His march of mystery,
   His endless warfare with man’s wilful heart; 
First, His great power He to the sinner shows, 
Lo! at His angry blast the rocks unclose,
   And to their base the trembling mountains part:

Yet the Lord is not here: ‘tis not by Power
He will be known—but darker tempests lower;
   Still, sullen heavings vex the labouring ground:
Perhaps His Presence thro’ all depth and height, 
Best of all gems, that deck His crown of light,
   The haughty eye may dazzle and confound.

God is not in the earthquake; but behold 
From Sinai’s caves are bursting, as of old,
   The flames of His consuming jealous ire.
Woe to the sinner, should stern Justice prove 
His chosen attribute ;—but He in love
   Hastes to proclaim, “God is not in the fire.”

The storm is o’er—and hark! a still small voice 
Steals on the ear, to say, Jehovah’s choice
   Is ever with the soft, meek, tender soul:
By soft, meek, tender ways He loves to draw 
The sinner, startled by His ways of awe:
   Here is our Lord, and not where thunders roll.

Back then, complainer; loath thy life no more, 
Nor deem thyself upon a desert shore,
   Because the rocks the nearer prospect close.
Yet in fallen Israel are there hearts and eyes 
That day by day in prayer like thine arise:
   Thou know’st them not, but their Creator knows.

Go, to the world return, nor fear to cast 
Thy bread upon the waters, sure at lastb
   In joy to find it after many days.
The work be thine, the fruit thy children’s part:
Choose to believe, not see: sight tempts the heart 
   From sober walking in true Gospel ways.

a  1 Samuel xvii. 28.
b  Eccles. xi. 1.