A Consecration Hymn

That good saint who first, 'mid rock and heather,
Rear'd a rude church here for prayer and praise,
Where the wild kern and his chief together
Came to worship in the olden days,

From the old cathedral where he moulders,
Could he rise, with his pale face, and stand
Here with us, the cope upon his shoulders,
And the cross he preach'd in his right hand;

He, the dead man, passionless and quiet,
Who has slept out all our restless years,
Our long ages of neglect and riot,
Fierce endeavours, fond regretful tears;

From beneath his shrine of carven granite
Could he come again to hear men say,
In their jargon of the mart and senate,
" 'Tis the many that make truth to-day " ;

Of earth's cares and angers disencumber'd,
All her pitiful strifes and Christless lore,
Would he tell us, " Go, ye are outnumber'd,
Rear no churches, preach no gospel more " ?

Haply rather, standing where the tender
Autumn light has touch'd this mass of stone,
And the shadow of the tall spire slender
Lies along the land he calls his own;

Where the light shows in the windows painted
Sapphire blue, or green as emerald sod,
In dear memory of the loved and sainted,
And unto the glory of our God;

Where, in the pure chancel set in order,
Duly wait for all the Bread and Wine,
And fair texts in their illumined border
From the dead walls speak a truth divine;

And the arches echo Hymn and Psalter,
Nor the living stones are wanting there;
Priest and Prelate, robed beside the altar,
And the crowd that swell the alternate prayer; —

Rather would the old man's eye be filling,
From his lip thanksgiving loud be wrung,
As he heard that grander ritual thrilling
Round him in the noble Saxon tongue.

We, with deeper, more intense thanksgiving,
Make our finish'd offering to the Lord;
Not from dead men's lips, but from the living,
Should the loud laudates here be pour'd.

Still some tokens to our hearts are given,
Types of better days around us stand,
As the sailor, by the wild waves driven,
Sees a green leaf, prophesying land.

So stand earnest of our Church's story —
Still, fair steeple, lift the Cross on high;
Tinge, O sunlight! tinge it with thy glory,
On low roof and leaded chancel lie.

So stand speaking unto distant ages,
With the eloquent silence of thy stone,
That faith works out all that love engages,
That Christ's strength in weakness is made known.
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