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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

St. Bartholomew, the Apostle

John Samuel Bewley Monsell (1811–1875)

‘When thou wast under the fig-tree I saw thee.’—JOHN I. 48.

HIDDEN close from human eye

Violets do love to lie,

Only for the tell-tale air,

No one could discover where:

But there’s an Eye which on them dwells

With sunshine soft and true,

A Hand which fills their purple bells

With drops of morning dew.

Tho’ they love the shady nook,

And with bee and babbling brook

Communing, with fragrant sigh,

Live, and bloom, and breathe, and die;

No gloomy anchorites are they,

In lonely severance sad,

But in their gentle, quiet way

They make God’s creatures glad.

So His hidden saints abound,

Scatter’d everywhere around,

Violets of Heav’nly birth,

Perfuming all parts of earth;

Fed by the sun and dews of heav’n,

They sleep not night nor day,

Still giving back what they are giv’n

In their own quiet way.

Theirs no plea for public place,

Modesty their fairest grace,

So to soothe that none may know

Whence the healing perfumes flow;

Themselves, unseen by human eye,

By human hand unsoil’d

Their soul’s immortal purity

By thought of self unspoil’d.

There to grow in grace and love,

Fitter for their place above;

Useful in the humblest way,

Fragrant even in decay;

And all the while their covenant

With Heav’n and earth fulfil,

The only thing of God they want,

Power to do His will.

So beneath the fig-tree’s shade,

Where of old Nathaniel paid

To the Lord his hidden vows;

Through its broad umbrageous boughs,

Upon the saint’s lone hour of need

Fell Heav’n’s approving smile,

And own’d an Israelite indeed,

In whom there was no guile.

Almost from himself conceal’d,

Now to God he stands reveal’d;

Now the blessed fruit receiving,

Which had grown from meek believing,

The hidden saint his Lord ordains

His messenger to be,

To gather in far richer gains,

And greater things to see.

Thence the saint unknown and lowly,

Set apart by God, and holy,

Changed in office, and in name,

Saint Bartholomew became;

And on his day the Church doth pray

Of God, in Christ’s dear Name,

To love that word which he believed,

Preach, and receive the same.