First Sunday After Christmas
'Tis true, of old the unchanging sun
His daily course refused to run,
The pale moon hurrying to the west
Paused at a mortal's call, to aid
The avenging storm of war, that laid
Seven guilty realms at once on earth's defiled breast.
But can it be, one suppliant tear
Should stay the ever-moving sphere?
A sick man's lowly-breathed sigh,
When from the world he turns away,
And hides his weary eyes to pray,
Should change your mystic dance, ye wanderers of the sky?
We too, O Lord, would fain command,
As then, Thy wonder-working hand,
And backward force the waves of Time,
That now so swift and silent bear
Our restless bark from year to year;
Help us to pause and mourn to Thee our tale of crime.
Bright hopes, that erst the bosom warmed,
And vows, too pure to be performed,
And prayers blown wide by gales of care; -
These, and such faint half-waking dreams,
Like stormy lights on mountain streams,
Wavering and broken all, athwart the conscience glare.
How shall we 'scape the o'erwhelming Past?
Can spirits broken, joys o'ercast,
And eyes that never more may smile: -
Can these th' avenging bolt delay,
Or win us back one little day
The bitterness of death to soften and beguile?
Father and Lover of our souls!
Though darkly round Thine anger rolls,
Thy sunshine smiles beneath the gloom,
Thou seek'st to warn us, not confound,
Thy showers would pierce the hardened ground
And win it to give out its brightness and perfume.
Thou smil'st on us in wrath, and we,
E'en in remorse, would smile on Thee,
The tears that bathe our offered hearts,
We would not have them stained and dim,
But dropped from wings of seraphim,
All glowing with the light accepted love imparts.
Time's waters will not ebb, nor stay;
Power cannot change them, but Love may;
What cannot be, Love counts it done.
Deep in the heart, her searching view
Can read where Faith is fixed and true,
Through shades of setting life can see Heaven's work begun.
O Thou, who keep'st the Key of Love,
Open Thy fount, eternal Dove,
And overflow this heart of mine,
Enlarging as it fills with Thee,
Till in one blaze of charity
Care and remorse are lost, like motes in light divine;
Till as each moment wafts us higher,
By every gush of pure desire,
And high-breathed hope of joys above,
By every secret sigh we heave,
Whole years of folly we outlive,
In His unerring sight, who measures Life by Love.
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