Be Thou near, when they shall nightly, by the bed
of infant brothers,
Hear their soft and gentle breathing, and shall bless them on their
And shall think how coldly falleth the white moonlight on the others,
In their bed beneath the trees.
Be Thou near, when they, they only, bear those
faces in remembrance,
And the number of their children strangers ask them with a smile;
And when other childlike faces touch them by the strong resemblance
To those turned to them erewhile.
Be Thou near, each chastened Spirit for its course
and conflict nerving,
Let Thy voice say, “Father—mother—lo! thy treasures live above!
Now be strong, be strong, no longer cumbered over much with serving
At the shrine of human love.”
Let them sleep! In course of ages e’en
the Holy House shall crumble,
And the broad and stately steeple one day bend to its decline,
And high arches, ancient arches bowed and decked in clothing humble,
Creeping moss shall round them twine.
Ancient arches, old and hoary, sunny beams shall glimmer
And invest them with a beauty we would fain they should not share,
And the moonlight slanting down them, the white moonlight shall imbue them
With a sadness dim and fair.
Then the soft green moss shall wrap you, and the world
shall all forget
Life, and stir, and toil, and tumult unawares shall pass you by;
Generations come and vanish: but it shall not grieve nor fret you,
That they sin, or that they sigh.
And the world, grown old in sinning, shall deny her
And think scorn of words which whisper how that all must pass away;
Time’s arrest and intermission shall account a vain tradition,
And a dream, the reckoning day!
Till His blast, a blast of terror, shall awake in
shame and sadness
Faithless millions to a vision of the failing earth and skies,
And more sweet than song of Angels, in their shout of joy and gladness,
Call the dead in Christ to rise!
Then, by One Man’s intercession, standing clear
from their transgression,
Father—mother—you shall meet them fairer than they were before,
And have joy with the Redeemed, joy ear hath not heard heart dreamed,
Ay for ever—evermore!
Marvels of sleep, grown cold!
Who hath not longed to fold
With pitying ruth, forgetful of their bliss,
Those cherub forms that lie,
With none to watch them nigh,
Or touch the silent lips with one warm human kiss?
What! they are left alone
All night with graven stone,
Pillars and arches that above them meet;
While through those windows high
The journeying stars can spy,
And dim blue moonbeams drop on their uncovered feet?