Mindful of these, the firstfruits
Borne by this suffering Church her Lord to greet;
Blessed Jesus ever loved to trace
The “innocent brightness” of an infant’s face.
He raised them in His holy arms,
He blessed them from the world and all its harms:
Heirs though they were of sin and shame,
He blessed them in his own and in his Father’s Name.
Then, as each fond unconscious child
On the everlasting Parent sweetly smiled
(Like infants sporting on the shore,
That tremble not at Ocean’s boundless roar),
Were they not present to Thy thought,
All souls, that in their cradles Thou hast bought?
But chiefly these, who died for Thee,
That Thou might’st live for them a sadder death to see.
And next to these, Thy gracious
Was as a pledge of benediction stored
For Christian mothers, while they moan
Their treasured hopes, just born, baptised, and gone.
Oh, joy for Rachel’s broken heart!
She and her babes shall meet no more to part;
So dear to Christ her pious haste
To trust them in His arms for ever safe embraced.
She dares not grudge to leave them
Where to behold them was her heart’s first prayer;
She dares not grieve—but she must weep,
As her pale placid martyr sinks to sleep,
Teaching so well and silently
How at the shepherd’s call the lamb should die:
How happier far than life the end
Of souls that infant-like beneath their burthen bend.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS
So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees
it was gone down.
Isaiah xxxviii. 8; compare Josh. x. 13.
’Tis true, of old the unchanging
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
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
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?