The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by John Keble
And the Angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. St. Luke i. 28.
Oh! Thou who deign’st to sympathise
With all our frail and fleshly ties,
Maker yet Brother dear,
Forgive the too presumptuous thought,
If, calming wayward grief, I sought
To gaze on Thee too near.
Yet sure ’twas not presumption, Lord,
’Twas Thine own comfortable word
That made the lesson known:
Of all the dearest bonds we prove,
Thou countest sons and mothers’ love
Most sacred, most Thine own.
When wandering here a little span,
Thou took’st on Thee to rescue man,
Thou had’st no earthly sire:
That wedded love we prize so dear,
As if our heaven and home were here,
It lit in Thee no fire.
On no sweet sister’s faithful breast
Wouldst Thou Thine aching forehead rest,
On no kind brother lean:
But who, O perfect filial heart,
E’er did like Thee a true son’s part,
Endearing, firm, serene?
Thou wept’st, meek maiden, mother mild,
Thou wept’st upon thy sinless Child,
Thy very heart was riven:
And yet, what mourning matron here
Would deem thy sorrows bought too dear
By all on this side Heaven?
A Son that never did amiss,
That never shamed His Mother’s kiss,
Nor crossed her fondest prayer:
E’en from the tree He deigned to bow,
For her His agonised brow,
Her, His sole earthly care.
Ave Maria! blessèd Maid!
Lily of Eden’s fragrant shade,
Who can express the love
That nurtured thee so pure and sweet,
Making thy heart a shelter meet
For Jesus’ holy dove?
Ave Maria! Mother blest,
To whom, caressing and caressed,
Clings the eternal Child;
Favoured beyond Archangels’ dream,
When first on Thee with tenderest gleam
Thy new-born Saviour smiled:—
Ave Maria! thou whose name
All but adoring love may claim,
Yet may we reach thy shrine;
For He, thy Son and Saviour, vows
To crown all lowly lofty brows
With love and joy like thine.
Blessed is the womb that bare Him—blessed
The bosom where His lips were pressed,
But rather blessed are they
Who hear His word and keep it well,
The living homes where Christ shall dwell,
And never pass away.