They marked what agonizing throes
Shook the great mother’s womb:
But Reason’s spells might not disclose
The gracious birth to come:
Nor could the enchantress Hope forecast
God’s secret love and power;
The travail pangs of Earth must last
Till her appointed hour.
The hour that saw from opening heaven
Redeeming glory stream,
Beyond the summer hues of even,
Beyond the mid-day beam.
Thenceforth, to eyes of high desire,
The meanest thing below,
As with a seraph’s robe of fire
Invested, burn and glow:
The rod of Heaven has touched them all,
The word from Heaven is spoken:
“Rise, shine, and sing, thou captive thrall;
Are not thy fetters broken?
“The God Who hallowed thee and blest,
Pronouncing thee all good —
Hath He not all thy wrongs redrest,
And all thy bliss renewed?
“Why mourn’st thou still as one bereft,
Now that th’ eternal Son
His blessed home in Heaven hath left
To make thee all His own?”
Thou mourn’st because sin lingers still
In Christ’s new heaven and earth;
Because our rebel works and will
Stain our immortal birth:
Because, as Love and Prayer grow cold,
The Saviour hides His face,
And worldlings blot the temple’s gold
With uses vile and base.
Hence all thy groans and travail pains,
Hence, till thy God return,
In Wisdom’s ear thy blithest strains,
Oh Nature, seem to mourn.
And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. St. Luke v. 5, 6.
“The livelong night we’ve toiled in vain,
But at Thy gracious word
I will let down the net again:-
Do Thou Thy will, O Lord!”
So spake the weary fisher, spent
With bootless darkling toil,
Yet on his Master’s bidding bent
For love and not for spoil.
So day by day and week by week,
In sad and weary thought,
They muse, whom God hath set to seek
The souls His Christ hath bought.
For not upon a tranquil lake
Our pleasant task we ply,
Where all along our glistening wake
The softest moonbeams lie;
Where rippling wave and dashing oar
Our midnight chant attend,
Or whispering palm-leaves from the shore
With midnight silence blend.
Sweet thoughts of peace, ye may not last:
Too soon some ruder sound
Calls us from where ye soar so fast
Back to our earthly round.
For wildest storms our ocean sweep:-
No anchor but the Cross
Might hold: and oft the thankless deep
Turns all our toil to loss.