(John Keble)

Advent Sunday

Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.  Romans xiii 11.

Awakeagain the Gospel-trump is blown
From year to year it swells with louder tone,
   From year to year the signs of wrath
   Are gathering round the Judges path,
Strange words fulfilled, and mighty works achieved,
And truth in all the world both hated and believed.

Awake! why linger in the gorgeous town,
Sworn liegemen of the Cross and thorny crown?
   Up from your beds of sloth for shame,
   Speed to the eastern mount like flame,
Nor wonder, should ye find your King in tears,
Een with the loud Hosanna ringing in His ears.

Alas! no need to rouse them: long ago
They are gone forth to swell Messiahs show:
   With glittering robes and garlands sweet
   They strew the ground beneath His feet:
All but your hearts are thereO doomed to prove
The arrows winged in Heaven for Faith that will not love!

Meanwhile He passes through th adoring crowd,
Calm as the march of some majestic cloud,
   That oer wild scenes of ocean-war
   Holds its still course in Heaven afar:
Een so, heart-searching Lord, as years roll on,
Thou keepest silent watch from Thy triumphal throne:

Een so, the world is thronging round to gaze
On the dread vision of the latter days,
   Constrained to own Thee, but in heart
   Prepared to take Barabbas part:
Hosanna now, to-morrow Crucify,
The changeful burden still of their rude lawless cry.

Yet in that throng of selfish hearts untrue
Thy sad eye rests upon Thy faithful few,
   Children and childlike souls are there,
   Blind Bartimeus humble prayer,
And Lazarus wakened from his four days sleep,
Enduring life again, that Passover to keep.

And fast beside the olive-bordered way
Stands the blessed home where Jesus deigned to stay,
   The peaceful home, to Zeal sincere
   And heavenly Contemplation dear,
Where Martha loved to wait with reverence meet,
And wiser Mary lingered at Thy sacred feet.

Still through decaying ages as they glide,
Thou lovst Thy chosen remnant to divide;
   Sprinkled along the waste of years
   Full many a soft green isle appears:
Pause where we may upon the desert road,
Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode.

When withering blasts of error swept the sky,
And Loves last flower seemed fain to droop and die,
   How sweet, how lone the ray benign
   On sheltered nooks of Palestine!
Then to his early home did Love repair,
And cheered his sickening heart with his own native air.

Years roll away: again the tide of crime
Has swept Thy footsteps from the favoured clime
   Where shall the holy Cross find rest?
   On a crowned monarchs mailèd breast:
Like some bright angel oer the darkling scene,
Through court and camp he holds his heavenward course serene.

A fouler vision yet; an age of light,
Light without love, glares on the aching sight:
   Oh, who can tell how calm and sweet,
   Meek Walton, shows thy green retreat,
When wearied with the tale thy times disclose,
The eye first finds thee out in thy secure repose?

Thus bad and good their several warnings give
Of His approach, whom none may see and live:
   Faiths ear, with awful still delight,
   Counts them like minute-bells at night.
Keeping the heart awake till dawn of morn,
While to her funeral pile this aged world is borne.

But what are Heavens alarms to hearts that cower
In wilful slumber, deepening every hour,
   That draw their curtains closer round,
   The nearer swells the trumpets sound?
Lord, ere our trembling lamps sink down and die,
Touch us with chastening hand, and make us feel Thee nigh.

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