Monday Before Easter
by John Keble
Doubtless Thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us,
and Israel acknowledge us not. Isaiah lxiii. 16.
"Father to me thou art and mother dear,
And brother too, kind husband of my heart -
So speaks Andromache in boding fear,
Ere from her last embrace her hero part -
So evermore, by Faith's undying glow,
We own the Crucified in weal or woe.
Strange to our ears the church-bells of our home,
This fragrance of our old paternal fields
May be forgotten; and the time may come
When the babe's kiss no sense of pleasure yields
E'en to the doting mother: but Thine own
Thou never canst forget, nor leave alone.
There are who sigh that no fond heart is theirs,
None loves them best--O vain and selfish sigh!
Out of the bosom of His love He spares -
The Father spares the Son, for thee to die:
For thee He died--for thee He lives again:
O'er thee He watches in His boundless reign.
Thou art as much His care, as if beside
Nor man nor angel lived in Heaven or earth:
Thus sunbeams pour alike their glorious tide
To light up worlds, or wake an insect's mirth:
They shine and shine with unexhausted store -
Thou art thy Saviour's darling--seek no more.
On thee and thine, thy warfare and thine end,
E'en in His hour of agony He thought,
When, ere the final pang His soul should rend,
The ransomed spirits one by one were brought
To His mind's eye--two silent nights and days
In calmness for His far-seen hour He stays.
Ye vaulted cells, where martyred seers of old
Far in the rocky walls of Sion sleep,
Green terraces and arched fountains cold,
Where lies the cypress shade so still and deep,
Dear sacred haunts of glory and of woe,
Help us, one hour, to trace His musings high and low:
One heart-ennobling hour! It may not be:
The unearthly thoughts have passed from earth away,
And fast as evening sunbeams from the sea
Thy footsteps all in Sion's deep decay
Were blotted from the holy ground: yet dear
Is every stone of hers; for Thou want surely here.
There is a spot within this sacred dale
That felt Thee kneeling--touched Thy prostrate brow:
One Angel knows it. O might prayer avail
To win that knowledge! sure each holy vow
Less quickly from the unstable soul would fade,
Offered where Christ in agony was laid.
Might tear of ours once mingle with the blood
That from His aching brow by moonlight fell,
Over the mournful joy our thoughts would brood,
Till they had framed within a guardian spell
To chase repining fancies, as they rise,
Like birds of evil wing, to mar our sacrifice.
So dreams the heart self-flattering, fondly dreams; -
Else wherefore, when the bitter waves o'erflow,
Miss we the light, Gethsemane, that streams
From thy dear name, where in His page of woe
It shines, a pale kind star in winter's sky?
Who vainly reads it there, in vain had seen Him die.