Gideon's Fleece

All night long on hot Gilboa's mountain,
With unmoisten'd breath, the breezes blew;
All night long the green corn in the valley
Thirsted, thirsted for one drop of dew.

Came the warrior from his home in Ophrah,
Sought the white fleece in the mountain pass,
As he heard the crimson morning rustle
In the dry leaves of the bearded grass.

Not a pearl was on the red pomegranate,
Not a diamond in the lily's crown,
Yet the fleece was heavy with its moisture,
Wet with dew-drops where no dew rain'd down.

All night long the dew was on the olives,
Every dark leaf set in diamond drops;
Silver frosted lay the lowland meadows,
Silver frosted all the mountain-tops.

Once again from Ophrah came the chieftain,
Sought his white fleece mid the dewy damps,
As the early sun look'd through the woodlands
Lighting up a thousand crystal lamps.

Every bright leaf gave back from its bosom,
Of that breaking sun a semblance rare;
All the wet earth glisten'd like a mirror,
Yet the fleece lay dry and dewless there.

Type, strange type, of Israel's early glory,
Heaven-besprinkled when the earth was dry;
Mystic type too of her sad declining,
Who doth desolate, and dewless lie,

When all earth is glistening in the Presence
Of the Sun that sets not night or day,
When the fulness of His Spirit droppeth
On the islands very far away.

Dream no more of Israel's sin and sorrow,
Of her glory and her grievous fall,
Hath that sacrament of shame and splendour
To thine own heart not a nearer call?

There are homes whereon the grace of Heaven
Falleth ever softly from above,
Homes by simple faith, and Christian duty,
Steep'd in peace, and holiness, and love:

Churches where the voice of praise and blessing
Droppeth daily like the silver dew,
Where the earnest lip of love distilleth
Words, like water running through and through.

There are children train'd in truth and goodness,
Graceless, careless in those holy homes,
There are hearts within those Christian temples,
Cold as angels carved upon the domes.

Places are there sin-defiled and barren,
Haunts of prayerless lips, and ruin'd souls:
Where some lonely heart, in secret, filleth
Cups of mercy, full as Gideon's bowls:

Where some Christ-like spirit, pure and gentle,
Sheddeth moisture on the desert spot,
Feels a tender Spirit in the darkness
Dewing all the dryness of his lot.

Christ! be with us, that these hearts within us
Prove not graceless in the hour of grace;
Dew of heaven! fill us with the fulness
Of Thy Spirit in the dewless place.
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