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THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT

What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? . . . But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. St. Matthew xi. 7, 9.

What went ye out to see

O’er the rude sandy lea,

Where stately Jordan flows by many a palm,

Or where Gennesaret’s wave

Delights the flowers to lave,

That o’er her western slope breathe airs of balm?

All through the summer night,

Those blossoms red and bright99Rhododendrons: with which the western bank of the lake is said to be clothed down to the water’s edge.

Spread their soft breasts, unheeding, to the breeze,

Like hermits watching still

Around the sacred hill,

Where erst our Saviour watched upon His knees.

The Paschal moon above

Seems like a saint to rove,

Left shining in the world with Christ alone;

Below, the lake’s still face

Sleeps sweetly in th’ embrace

Of mountains terrac’d high with mossy stone.

Here may we sit, and dream

Over the heavenly theme,

Till to our soul the former days return;

Till on the grassy bed,

Where thousands once He fed,

The world’s incarnate Maker we discern.

O cross no more the main,

Wandering so will and vain,

To count the reeds that tremble in the wind,

On listless dalliance bound,

Like children gazing round,

Who on God’s works no seal of Godhead find.

Bask not in courtly bower,

Or sun-bright hall of power,

Pass Babel quick, and seek the holy land —

From robes of Tyrian dye

Turn with undazzled eye

To Bethlehem’s glade, or Carmel’s haunted strand.

Or choose thee out a cell

In Kedron’s storied dell,

Beside the springs of Love, that never die;

Among the olives kneel

The chill night-blast to feel,

And watch the Moon that saw thy Master’s agony.

Then rise at dawn of day,

And wind thy thoughtful way,

Where rested once the Temple’s stately shade,

With due feet tracing round

The city’s northern bound,

To th’ other holy garden, where the Lord was laid.

Who thus alternate see

His death and victory,

Rising and falling as on angel wings,

They, while they seem to roam,

Draw daily nearer home,

Their heart untravell’d still adores the King of kings.

Or, if at home they stay,

Yet are they, day by day,

In spirit journeying through the glorious land,

Not for light Fancy’s reed,

Nor Honour’s purple meed,

Nor gifted Prophet’s lore, nor Science’ wondrous wand.

But more than Prophet, more

Than Angels can adore

With face unveil’d, is He they go to seek:

Blessed be God, Whose grace

Shows Him in every place

To homeliest hearts of pilgrims pure and meek.


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