Wednesday, June 24, 2015

St. John the Baptist’s Day

By John Kebles

Twice in her season of decay 
The fallen Church hath felt Elijah’s eye 
Dart from the wild its piercing ray: 
Not keener burns, in the chill morning sky, 
The herald star, 
Whose torch afar 
Shadows and boding night-birds fly. 

Methinks we need him once again, 
That favour’d seer—but where shall he be found? 
By Cherith’s side we seek in vain, 
In vain on Carmel’s green and lonely mound: 
Angels no more 
From Sinai soar, 
On his celestial errands bound. 

But wafted to her glorious place 
By harmless fire, among the ethereal thrones, 
His spirit with a dear embrace 
Thee the loved harbinger of Jesus owns, 
Well pleased to view 
Her likeness true, 
And trace, in thine, her own deep tones. 

Deathless himself, he joys with thee 
To commune how a faithful martyr dies, 
And in the blest could envy be, 
He would behold thy wounds with envious eyes, 
Star of our morn, 
Who yet unborn 
Didst guide our hope where Christ should rise. 

Now resting from your jealous care 
For sinners, such as Eden cannot know, 
Ye pour for us your mingled prayer, 
No anxious fear to damp Affection’s glow. 
Love draws a cloud 
From you to shroud 
Rebellion’s mystery here below. 

And since we see, and not afar, 
The twilight of the great and dreadful day, 
Why linger, till Elijah’s car pray, 
Stoop from the clouds? Why sleep ye? rise and 
Ye heralds seal’d 
In camp or field 
Your Saviour’s banner to display. 

Where is the lore the Baptist taught, 
The soul unswerving and the fearless tongue? 
The much-enduring wisdom, sought 
By lonely prayer the haunted rocks among? 
Who counts it gain 
His light should wane, 
So the whole world to Jesus throng? 

Thou Spirit who the Church didst lend 
Her eagle wings, to shelter in the wild, 
We pray thee, ere the Judge descend, 
With flames like these, all bright and undefiled, 
Her watchfires light, 
To guide aright 
Our weary souls, by earth beguiled. 

So glorious let Thy Pastors shine, 
That by their speaking lives the world may learn 
First filial duty, then divine, 
That sons to parents, all to Thee may turn ; 
And ready prove 
In fires of love, 
At sight of Thee, for aye to burn.

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