Though scarcely now their laggard glance
Reach to an arrow’s flight, that day
They shall behold, and not in trance,
The region “very far away.”
If Memory sometimes at our spell
Refuse to speak, or speak amiss,
We shall not need her where we dwell
Ever in sight of all our bliss.
Meanwhile, if over sea or sky
Some tender lights unnoticed fleet,
Or on loved features dawn and die,
Unread, to us, their lesson sweet;
Yet are there saddening sights around,
Which Heaven, in mercy, spares us too,
And we see far in holy ground,
If duly purged our mental view.
The distant landscape draws not nigh
For all our gazing; but the soul,
That upward looks, may still descry
Nearer, each day, the brightening goal.
And thou, too curious ear, that fain
Wouldst thread the maze of Harmony,
Content thee with one simple strain,
The lowlier, sure, the worthier thee;
Till thou art duly trained, and taught
The concord sweet of Love divine:
Then, with that inward Music fraught,
For ever rise, and sing, and shine.
And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God. St. Luke ii. 13.
What sudden blaze of song
Spreads o’er th’ expanse of Heaven?
In waves of light it thrills along,
Th’ angelic signal given —
“Glory to God!” from yonder central fire
Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry choir;
Like circles widening round
Upon a clear blue river,
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound
Is echoed on for ever:
“Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,
And love towards men of love—salvation and release.”
Yet stay, before thou dare
To join that festal throng;
Listen and mark what gentle air
First stirred the tide of song;
’Tis not, “the Saviour born in David’s home,
To Whom for power and health obedient worlds should come:” —
’Tis not, “the Christ
With fixed adoring look
The choir of Angels caught the word,
Nor yet their silence broke:
But when they heard the sign where Christ should be,
In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony.
Wrapped in His swaddling bands,
And in His manger laid,
The Hope and Glory of all lands
Is come to the world’s aid:
No peaceful home upon his cradle smiled,
Guests rudely went and came, where slept the royal Child.
But where Thou dwellest, Lord,
No other thought should be,
Once duly welcomed and adored,
How should I part with Thee?
Bethlehem must lose Thee soon, but Thou wilt grace
The single heart to be Thy sure abiding-place.
Thee, on the bosom laid
Of a pure virgin mind,
In quiet ever, and in shade,
Shepherd and sage may find;
They, who have bowed untaught to Nature’s sway,
And they, who follow Truth along her star-paved way.