W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.
The Angel SongJohn Keble (17921866)
Spreads o’er th’ expanse of heav’n?
In waves of light it thrills along,
Th’ angelic signal given—
“Glory to God!” from yonder central fire
Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry quire;
Upon a clear blue river,
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound
Is echoed on for ever:
“Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,
And love towards men of love—salvation and release.”
To join that festal throng;
Listen and mark what gentle air
First stirr’d the tide of song;
’Tis not, “the Saviour born in David’s home,
To whom for power and health obedient worlds should come:”—
With fix’d adoring look
The choir of Angels caught the word,
Nor yet their silence broke:
But when they heard the sign, where Christ should be,
In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony.
And in His manger laid,
The hope and glory of all lands
Is come to the world’s aid:
No peaceful home upon His cradle smil’d,
Guests rudely went and came, where slept the royal Child.
No other thought should be.
Once duly welcom’d and ador’d,
How should I part with Thee?
Bethlehem must lose Thee soon, but Thou wilt grace
The single heart to be Thy sure abiding-place.
Of a pure virgin mind,
In quiet ever, and in shade,
Shepherd and sage may find;
They, who have bow’d untaught to Nature’s sway,
And they, who follow Truth along her star-paved way.
Approach Thee, Babe divine,
For they in lowly thoughts are nurs’d,
Meet for Thy lowly shrine:
Sooner than they should miss where Thou dost dwell,
Angels from Heaven will stoop to guide them to Thy cell.
For Thee to be revealed,
By wakeful shepherds Thou art found,
Abiding in the field.
All through the wintry heaven and chill night air,
In music and in light Thou dawnest on their prayer.
What though your wandering sheep,
Reckless of what they see and hear,
Lie lost in wilful sleep?
High Heaven in mercy to your sad annoy
Still greets you with glad tidings of immortal joy.
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untir’d His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.