John Keble


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'Twas silence in Thy temple, Lord,
When slowly through the hallowed air
The spreading cloud of incense soared,
Charged with the breath of Israel's prayer.

'Twas silence round Thy throne on high,
When the last wondrous seal unclosed,
And in this portals of the sky
Thine armies awfully reposed.

And this deep pause, that o'er us now
Is hovering--comes it not of Thee?
Is it not like a mother's vow
When, with her darling on her knee,

She weighs and numbers o'er and o'er
Love's treasure hid in her fond breast,
To cull from that exhaustless store
The dearest blessing and the best?

And where shall mother's bosom find,
With all its deep love-learned skill,
A prayer so sweetly to her mind,
As, in this sacred hour and still,

Is wafted from the white-robed choir,
Ere yet the pure high-breathed lay,
"Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,"
Rise floating on its dove-like way.

And when it comes, so deep and clear
The strain, so soft the melting fall,
It seems not to th' entranced ear
Less than Thine own heart-cheering call.

Spirit of Christ--Thine earnest given
That these our prayers are heard, and they,
Who grasp, this hour, the sword of Heaven,
Shall feel Thee on their weary way.

Oft as at morn or soothing eve
Over the Holy Fount they lean,
Their fading garland freshly weave,
Or fan them with Thine airs serene.

Spirit of Light and Truth! to Thee
We trust them in that musing hour,
Till they, with open heart and free.
Teach all Thy word in all its power.

When foemen watch their tents by night,
And mists hang wide o'er moor and fell,
Spirit of Counsel and of Might,
Their pastoral warfare guide Thou well.

And, oh! when worn and tired they sigh
With that more fearful war within,
When Passion's storms are loud and high,
And brooding o'er remembered sin

The heart dies down--oh, mightiest then,
Come ever true, come ever near,
And wake their slumbering love again,
Spirit of God's most holy Fear!

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John Keble