When the long working-day of life is wearing away its last hours and verging towards the great stillness, the voices of time fall but faintly on the ear, the adorations and ideals and fashions and enthusiasms of the world come to mean little to a man who in his day has followed them as eagerly as any, and the heart within him asks only for rest.
God, if there be none beside Thee
Dwelling in the light,
Take me out of the world and hide me
Somewhere behind the night.
When, like Simeon the seer with the Christ-Child in his arms, a man feels that for him life has said its last word and shown its last wonder and uttered its last benediction, the desire for rest is a pure and spiritually normal thing; it is just the soul’s gaze turned upward where
God waiteth us above,
To give to hand and heart the spoils
Of labour and of love.
And maybe this mood of which we are thinking may have a not unworthy place in a strenuous life. As a tired woman pauses amid her tasks and looks out of her cottage window to take into her heart the quiet beauty of the woods where she knows the ground is fair with lilies, so do we find ourselves looking out of life’s small casement and thinking upon the fresh, free, ‘outdoor’ life the soul will some day live. And such a mood as this is surely a sign of the soul’s growth, a testimony of its responsiveness to the divine touch, a sudden sense of its splendid destiny borne in upon it among the grey and narrow circumstances of its service.
Oh that I had a dove’s swift, silver
I said, so I might straightway leave behind
This strife of tongues, this tramp of feet, and find
A world that knows no struggles and no stings,
Where all about the soul soft Silence flings
Her filmy garment, and the vexèd mind
Grows quiet as there floats upon the wind
The soothing slumber-song of dreamless things.
And lo! there answered me a voice and said,
Man, thou hast hands and heart, take back thy prayer;
Covet life’s weariness, go forth and share
The common suffering and the toil for bread.
Look not on Rest, although her face be fair,
And her white hands shall smooth thy narrow bed.
A NEW SONG
O sing unto the Lord a new song.
Ps. xcvi. 1.
Time and again in the Psalter we find this appeal for a new song. First of all, and most obviously, the appeal concerns the contents of the song. It reminds us of the duty of making our grateful acknowledgement of God’s goodness to us expand with our growing experience of that goodness. It is, if, one may so phrase it, a reminder to us that our praise needs bringing up to date. A hymn considerably later in date than this psalm exhorts us to ‘count’ our ‘blessings,’ and to ‘name them