POETRY: Sunday After Ascension, by John Keble

Sunday After Ascension John Keble

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (Peter 4:10)

The Earth that in her genial breast
Makes for the down a kindly nest,
Where wafted by the warm south-west
It floats at pleasure,
Yields, thankful, of her very best,
To nurse her treasure:
True to her trust, tree, herb, or reed,
She renders for each scatter’d seed,
And to her Lord with duteous heed
Gives large increase:
Thus year by year she works unfeed,
And will not cease.

Woe worth these barren hearts of ours,
Where Thou hast set celestial flowers,
And water’d with more balmy showers,
Than e’er distill’d
In Eden, on th’ ambrosial bowers—
Yet nought we yield.

Largely Thou givest, gracious Lord,
Largely thy gifts should be restor’d;
Freely Thou givest, and thy word
Is, “freely give.”
He only, who forgets to hoard,
Has learn’d to live.

Wisely Thou givest—all around
Thine equal rays are resting found,
Yet varying so on various ground
They pierce and strike,
That not two roseate cups are crown’d
With dew alike:

Even so, in silence, likest Thee,
Steals on soft-handed Charity,
Tempering her gifts, that seem so free,
By time and place,
Till not a woe the bleak world see,
But finds her grace:

Eyes to the blind, and to the lame
Feet, and to sinners wholesome blame,
To starving bodies food and flame
By turns she brings,
To humbled souls, that sink for shame,
Lends heaven-ward wings:

Leads them the way our Saviour went,
And shews Love’s treasure yet unspent;
As when the’ unclouded heavens were rent
Opening his road,
Nor yet his Holy Spirit sent
To our abode.

Ten days th’ eternal doors display’d
Were wondering (so th’ Almighty bade)
Whom Love enthron’d would send, in aid
Of souls that mourn,
Left orphans in Earth’s dreary shade
As soon as born.

Open they stand, that prayers in throngs
May rise on high, and holy songs,
Such incense as of right belongs
To the true shrine,
Where stands the Healer of all wrongs
In light divine;

The golden censer in his hand,
He offers hearts from every land,
Tied to his own by gentlest band
Of silent Love:
About Him winged blessings stand
In act to move.

A little while, and they shall fleet
From Heaven to Earth, attendants meet
On the life-giving Paraclete
Speeding his flight,
With all that sacred is and sweet,
On saints to light.

Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, all
Shall feel the shower of Mercy fall,
And starting at th’ Almighty’s call,
Give what He gave,
Till their high deeds the world appall,
And sinners save.

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