“O That Thou Wouldst Rend the Heavens and Come Down!”

Come through the gloom of clouded skies,

The slow dim rain and fog athwart,

Through East winds keen and wrong and lies,

Come and make strong my hopeless heart.

 

Come through the sickness and the pain,

The sore unrest that tosses still,

The aching dark that hides the gain –

Come and arouse my fainting will.

 

Come through the prate of foolish words,

The Science with no Lord behind,

Through all the pangs of untuned chords

Speak wisdom to my shaken mind.

 

Through all the fears –that spirits bow-

Of what hath been or may befall,

Come down and talk with me, for thou

Canst tell me about them all.

 

Come, Lord of Life -here is thy seat,

Heart of all joy below, above –

One minute let me kiss thy feet

And name the names of those I love.

 

For, when thou comest, well I know

Thou wast not all the time away;

And strong I rise, when thou dost go,

To meet the dark another day.

 

~George MacDonald

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Until That Morning Breaks

It must be possible that the soul madeShould absolutely meet the soul that makes;

Then, in that bearing soul, meet every other

There also born, each sister and each brother.

Lord, till I meet thee thus, life is delayed;

I am not I until that morning breaks,

Not I until my consciousness eternal wakes.

Lonely Souls

We all are lonely, Maker—each a soul

Shut in by itself, a sundered atom of thee.

No two yet loved themselves into a whole;

Even when we weep together we are two.

Of two to make one, which yet two shall be,

Is thy creation’s problem, deep, and true,

To which thou only hold’st the happy, hurting clue.

~ George MacDonald

The World’s Tragedy

I come, I come, o sons of men, my triumph roars at last,

Yet with the weight of this my staff I scarce can tread so fast.

‘Twas worth the patient wandering years, the fight with want and sin,

To see, with pomp and crowded streets, my kingdom ushered in.

My mantle trails along the stones, man’s best imperial crown

Sits hard about my brows – so hard, methinks, the blood runs down.

 

I come, I come, o sons of men, Jerusalem I come,

My mighty men the halt and lame, my counsellors the dumb.

Raised on the highest steeps of time, with power to bless and ban,

I come, I come, o sons of men, the crownèd son of man.

O brothers, sisters, little ones, whose homes were poor as mine,

My heart went to you through the mists of all the dreams divine.

 

I dropped the crust, I siezed the staff, I trod the homeless wold,

No king of all my foes could fling the hateful taunt of gold.

I sought the meanest lives that felt the Father’s rain and sun,

I bent above the harlot’s shame, and she and I were one,

Lower and lower down I bent, and still my heart was full.

O brothers, sisters, broken ones the world’s hard judges slay,

O captives at the gibbet’s foot, I join you too today.

 

O brothers, sisters, toiling ones hereafter that shall rise,

To break the glebe in other lands, to sweat ‘neath other skies,

That age’s dust and sage’s doubt may turn your hearts from me,

That you in glare of newer times, again may join the cry

With rulers and with men of wealth, the shout of “Crucify!”,

That yet again the noise may come, the lazy sophist’s scorn,

That ye too may deride me dead, whom I have loved unborn.

 

~GK Chesterton (ca. 1893)

IF

 

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

 

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

 

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

 

~ Rudyard Kipling

A Christmas Carol for 1862

(The year of the trouble in Lancashire.)

The skies are pale, the trees are stiff,

The earth is dull and old;

The frost is glittering as if

The very sun were cold.

And hunger fell is joined with frost,

To make men thin and wan:

Come, babe, from heaven, or we are lost;

Be born, O child of man.

 

Thy children cry, the women shake,

The strong men stare about;

They sleep when they should be awake,

They wake ere night is is out.

For they have lost their heritage –

No sweat is on their brow:

Come, babe, and bring them work and wage;

Be born, and save us now.

 

Across the sea, beyond our sight,

Roars on the fierce debate;

The men go down in bloody fight,

The women weep and hate;

And in the right be which that may,

Surely the strife is long!

Come, son of man, thy righteous way,

And right will have no wrong.

 

Good men speak lies against thine own –

Tongue quick, and hearing slow;

They will not let thee walk alone,

And think to serve thee so:

If they the children’s freedom saw

In thee, the children’s king,

They would be still with holy awe,

Or only speak to sing.

 

Some neither lie nor starve nor fight,

Nor yet the poor deny;

But in their hearts all is not right,

-They often sit and sigh.

We need thee every day and hour,

In sunshine and in snow:

Child-king, we pray with all our power –

Be born, and save us so.

 

We are but men and women, Lord;

Thou art a gracious child!

O fill our hearts, and heap our board,

Pray thee – the winter’s wild!

The sky is sad, the trees are bare,

Hunger and hate about:

Come, child, and ill deeds and ill fare

Will soon be driven out.

 

– George MacDonald

 

Without Love

“Without love, there can be no understanding. Hate will sharpen observation to the point of microscopic vision, affording opportunity for many a shrewd guess, and revealing facts for the construction of the cleverest and falsest theories, but will leave the observer as blind as any bat to the scope of the whole, or the meaning of the parts which can be understood only from the whole; for love alone can interpret.” 

– George MacDonald, ‘St. George and St. Michael.’