Whispered at the Church-Opening

In the bran-new pulpit the bishop stands,
And gives out his text, as his gaze expands
To the people, the aisles, the roof's new frame,
And the arches, and ashlar with coloured bands.

" Why — he's the man," says one, " who came
To preach in my boyhood — a fashion then —
In a series of sermons to working-men
On week-day evenings, a novelty
Which brought better folk to hear and see.
They preached each one each week, by request:
Some were eloquent speakers, among the best
Of the lot being this, as all confessed."

" I remember now. And reflection brings
Back one in especial, sincerest of all;
Whose words, though unpicked, gave the essence of things; —
And where is he now, whom I well recall?"

" Oh, he'd no touches of tactic skill:
His mind ran on charity and good will:
He's but as he was, a vicar still."
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