(John Keble)

St. Stephen's Day

    He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.  Acts vii. 55

As rays around the source of light
Stream upward ere he glow in sight,
And watching by his future flight
   Set the clear heavens on fire;
So on the King of Martyrs wait
Three chosen bands, in royal state,
And all earth owns, of good and great,
   Is gatherd in that choir.

One presses on, and welcomes death:
One calmly yields his willing breath,
Nor slow, nor hurrying, but in faith
   Content to die or live:
And some, the darlings of their Lord,
Play smiling with the flame and sword,
And, ere they speak, to His sure word
   Unconscious witness give.

Foremost and nearest to His throne,
By perfect robes of triumph known,
And likest Him in look and tone,
   The holy Stephen kneels,
With stedfast gaze, as when the sky
Flew open to his fainting eye,
Which, like a fading lamp, flashd high,
   Seeing what death conceals.

Well might you guess what vision bright
Was present to his raptured sight,
Een as reflected streams of light
   Their solar source betray
The glory which our God surrounds,
The Son of Man, the atoning wounds
He sees them all; and earths dull bounds
   Are melting fast away.

He sees them allno other view
Could stamp the Saviours likeness true,
Or with His love so deep embrue
   Mans sullen heart and gross
Jesus, do Thou my soul receive:
Jesu, do Thou my foes forgive;
He who would learn that prayer must live
   Under the holy Cross.

He, though he seem on earth to move,
Must glide in air like gentle dove,
From yon unclouded depths above
   Must draw his purer breath;
Till men behold his angel face
All radiant with celestial grace,
Martyr all oer, and meet to trace
   The lines of Jesus death.

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