How blest to all Thy followers, Lord, the road
By which Thou lead'st them on, yet oft how strange!
But Thou in all dost seek our highest good,
For Truth were true no longer, couldst Thou change.
Though crooked seem the paths, yet are they straight,
By which Thou draw'st Thy children up to Thee,
And passing wonders by the way they see,
And learn at last to own Thee wise and great.
No human laws can bind Thy Spirit, Lord,
That reason or opinion frame for us;
The knot of doubt is severed by Thy sword,
Or falls unravelled if Thou willest thus.
The strongest bonds are weak to Thee, O God,
All sinks and fails that would Thy course oppose;
Thy lightest word can quell Thy stoutest foes,
And desert paths are by Thy footsteps trod.
What human prudence fondly strives to bind,
Thy wisdom sunders far as east to west;
Who long beneath the yoke of man have pined,
Thy hand exalteth high above the rest.
The world would scatter, Thou dost union give;
She breaks, Thou buildest; what she builds is made
A ruined heap; her light is nought but shade;
Her dead Thy Spirit calls to rise and live.
Is there an act our reason would applaud?
Lo! in Thy book hast Thou the example given;
But him whom none as wise and pious laud,
Thou often lead'st in secret up to Heaven,
As Thou didst leave the Pharisee, to go
And eat with sinners whom all else forsook.
Who can search out Thy purposes, or look
Into the abyss of wisdom whence they flow?
Our all, O God, is nothing in Thine eyes,
Our nothing Thou regardest oft with love;
Glory and pomp of words Thou dost not prize,
Thy impulse only gives them power to move.
Thy noblest works awaken not man's praise,
For they are hidden, and he blindly turns
Away, nor though he see, their light discerns,
Too gross his sense, too keen their dazzling rays.
O Ruler! We would bless Thee and adore,
At whose command we live or turn to dust;
When Thou dost give us of Thy wisdom's store,
We see how true Thy care, and learn to trust.
Thy wisdom plays with us as with a child,
Who playing learns his Father loves him well;
'Tis love that brings Thee down with man to dwell,
Love guides our faltering footsteps through the wild.
Now seems to us o'er harsh and strict Thy school,
Now dost Thou greet us mild and tenderly,
Now when our wilder passions break Thy rule,
Thy judgments fright us back again to Thee.
With downcast eyes we seek Thy face again,
Thou kissest us, we promise fair amends,
Once more Thy Spirit rest and pardon sends,
And curbs our passions with a stronger rein.
Thou know'st, O Father, all our weakness well,
Our impotence, our foolishness of mind;
Almost a passing glance may serve to tell
How weak are we, how ignorant, how blind,
And so Thou comest with Thy help and stay,
A father's rule, a mother's love are Thine;
The lamb, on whom none else discern Thy sign,
Thou carriest in Thy bosom day by day.
The common ways are trodden not of Thee,
Thy steps are seldom traced by mortal eyes,
Yet art Thou near us, and unseen, dost see
All hopes and wishes that within us rise.
The bright reflection of Thy inner thought
Is day by day before our eyes outspread;
Who thinks he quickest hath Thy meaning read,
Is oft another deeper lesson taught.
O Eye, whose glance no falsehood can endure,
Grant me to wisely judge, and well discern
Nature from grace--Thy Light serene and pure
From grosser fires that in and round me burn.
Let no strange fire be kindled on the shrine
Within my heart, lest I should madly bring
The hated offering unto Thee, O King.
Ah, blest the soul whose light is born of Thine!
When reason contradicts Thy law, or climbs
So high, she weeneth to know more than Thou,
Break down her confidence, great God, betimes,
And teach her lowly at Thy feet to bow.
Nor let my proud heart dictate, Lord, to Thee,
But tame the wayward will that seeks its own,
And wake the love that clings to Thee alone,
And takes Thy judgments in humility.
Absorb my will in Thine; support and bear
Onward in loving arms Thy timid child;
Thy Spirit's voice dispels all doubt, all fear,
And quells the passions erst so fierce and wild.
Thou art mine All, since that Thy Son is mine;
Oh let Thy Spirit work with power in me,
With strong desire I thirst, I pant for Thee,
Oh joy whene'er Thy glories round me shine!
So shall the creature ever serve me here,
Nor angels blush to bear me company;
The perfect spirits to Thy throne most near,
They are my brethren, waiting there for me;
And oft my spirit joys to meet a heart,
That loveth Thee and me and every saint.
Is aught then left can make me sad and faint?
Come, Fount of Joy! vain sorrows, all depart!
Source: Lyra Germanica: The Christian Year #73