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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

James Freeman Clarke (1810–1888)

Hymn and Prayer

INFINITE SPIRIT! who art round us ever,

In whom we float, as motes in summer sky,

May neither life nor death the sweet bond sever,

Which joins us to our unseen Friend on high.

Unseen, yet not unfelt,—if any thought

Has raised our mind from earth, or pure desire

A generous act or noble purpose brought,

It is thy breath, O Lord, which fans the fire.

To me, the meanest of thy creatures, kneeling,

Conscious of weakness, ignorance, sin, and shame,

Give such a force of holy thought and feeling

That I may live to glorify thy name;

That I may conquer base desire and passion,

That I may rise o’er selfish thought and will,

O’ercome the world’s allurement, threat, and fashion,

Walk humbly, softly, leaning on thee still.

I am unworthy.—Yet for their dear sake

I ask, whose roots planted in me are found;

For precious vines are propped by rudest stake,

And heavenly roses fed in darkest ground.

Beneath my leaves, though early fallen and faded,

Young plants are warmed, they drink my branches’ dew:

Let them not, Lord, by me be Upas-shaded;

Make me for their sake firm, and pure, and true.

For their sake too—the faithful, wise, and bold,

Whose generous love has been my pride and stay,

Those who have found in me some trace of gold—

For their sake purify my lead and clay.

And let not all the pains and toil be wasted,

Spent on my youth by saints now gone to rest,

Nor that deep sorrow my Redeemer tasted,

When on his soul the guilt of man was pressed.

Tender and sensitive, he braved the storm,

That we might fly a well-deservèd fate,

Poured out his soul in supplication warm,

With eyes of love looked into eyes of hate.

Let all this goodness by my mind be seen,

Let all this mercy on my heart be sealed;

Lord, if thou wilt, thy power can make me clean!

O speak the word,—thy servant shall be healed!