Page images
PDF
EPUB

385

SACRED POETRY.

THE COUNTRY PASTOR.

THE BIRTH.

Yes, thou art launch'd on the great sea of being;
Nor aught of things that are, or things to be,
Can wrest thy birth-right-Immortality.
Onward, and ever onward shalt thou fling
Eternity around thee, feeble thing.
Nor comet's course, nor rolling century,
Number thine years! The earth shall fold her wing,
And make her nest in darkness; from the sky
Shall pass away yon fiery sentinel ;
And she, thy childhood's monthly chronicler,
When from this womb of Nature thou shalt climb
The mighty stair of being, borne sublime
The stars among-thyself a glorious star;
Or like a smouldering brand, in ruin dwell.

[blocks in formation]

'Mid sounds of morn that gentle voice is not,
But in his mother's heart its echo dwells.
In her dark spirit's silent citadels
His image sits alone. Man's varied lot
Of ills came prowling round his cradle cot ;
But the all-pitying One hath snatch'd him hence,
To shield from harm his guileless innocence,
In his own sheltering breast. Morn hath forgot
Her looks of love; and 'mid the sounds of even
That gentle voice is not. Dun hues of care
Come on, and liveries of wintry heav'n.
He on his little orb sits smilingly,
And sings, and sighs, that all on earth so dear
Were but as happy and as safe as he.

GOD'S PRESENCE. “We consider persons as present, not only when they are within reach of our senses, but also when we are assured by any other means that they are within such a nearness .

And must He, who is so much more intimately with us, that in Him we live, and move, and have our being, be thought too distant to be the object of our affections ?"-Bishop Butler's Sermon on the Love of God.

When some loved friend is by,
And we sit silently;
That silence is not solitude ;
All things put on a social mood.

• The last thought from Jeremy Taylor.

When home, unseen, is near,
And fill’d with inmates dear,
Home thoughts are hanging on each tree,
And people the dun vacancy.
The day when Jesus rose,
Doth brighter skies disclose ;
All things put on a sabbath ray,
The very birds keep holiday.
Did we feel at our side
The friend who for us died,
The world with love would clothed be,
And wear a glad philosophy.
Tis prayer which gives to know
His nearness here below,
And opes anew a hidden door
Unto His Presence evermore.

Lyra Apostolica.

Γνoιεν δ', ώς δη δηρόν εγώ πολέμοιο πέπαυμαι.

NO, XXXV.

1.- NOAH.

We are not children of a guilty sire,

Since Noe stept from out his wave-tossed home,

And a stern baptism flushed earth's faded bloom. Not that the heavens then cleared, or cherub's fire From Eden's portal aid at once retire;

But thoughts were stirred of Him who was to come,

Whose rainbow-hues so streaked the o'ershadowing gloom,
That faith could e'en that desolate scene admire.
The Lord has come and gone; and now we wait
The second substance of the deluge type,
When our slight Ark shall cross a molten surge;

So, while the gross earth melts, for judgment ripe,
Ne'er with its haughty turrets to emerge,
We shall mount up to Eden's long-lost gate.

2.-MELCHIZEDEK. Thrice blest are they who feel their loneliness;

To whom nor voice of friend nor pleasant scene

Brings that on which the saddened heart can lean;
Yea, the rich earth, garbed in its daintiest dress
Of light and joy, doth but the more oppress,

Claiming return of thanks or rapture keen.

Till with quick sense they pierce the shadowy skreen Which hides His presence, who alone can bless.

Such, in strange days, the weapons of Heaven's grace :-
When, passing Levi's proud-emblazoned line,
He forms the vessel of His high design;
Fatherless, homeless, reft of name and place,
Freed of time's gifts, and careless of its wreck,
Born through long woe His rare Melchizedek.

3.-ABRAHAM.
The better portion didst thou choose, Great Heart,

Thy God's first choice, and pledge of Gentile-grace !

Faith's truest type, he with upruffled face
Bore the world's smile, and bade her slaves depart ;
Whether, a trader, with no trader's art,

He buys in Canaan his first resting-place,

Or freely turns from Siddim's ample space,
Or braves the rescue and the battle's smart,
Yet scorns the heathen gifts of those he saved.
O happy in their soul's high solitude,
Who commune thus with God and not with earth!
Amid the scoffings of the wealth-enslaved,
A ready prey, as though in absent mood
They calmly move, nor hear the unmannered mirth.

4.-ISAAC.
Many the guileless years the Patriarch spent,

Blessed in the wife, a father's foresight chose;

Many the prayers and gracious deeds, which rose
Daily thank-offerings from his pilgrim tent.
Yet these, though written in the heavens, are rent

From out truth's lower roll, which sternly shews

But one sad trespass at his history's close,
Father's, son's, mother's, and its punishment.
Not in their brightness, but their earthly stains
Are the true seed vouchsafed to earthly eyes.
Sin can read sin, but dimly scans high grace,
So we move heavenward with averted face,
Scared into faith by warning of sin's pains,
And saints are lowered, that the world may rise.

5.-ISRAEL.

“And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him ; but he refused to be comforted."

O specious sin and Satan's subtle snare

That urges sore each gentlest meekest heart,

When its kind thoughts are crushed, and its wounds smart,
Worldsick to turn within and image there
Some idol-dream, to lull the throbbing care !

So felt reft Israel, when he fain would part
With living friends, and called on memory's art
To raise the dead, and sooth him by despair.

Nor err they not, although that image be
God's own, nor to the dead their thoughts be given,
Earth-hating sure, but yet of earth enthralled ;
For who dare sit at home, and wait to see
High heaven descend, when man om self called
Up through this thwarting outward world to heaven?

6.-JOSEPH.

And they cried before him, Bow the knee." O purest semblance of the eternal Son!

Who dwelt in thee as in some blessed shrine,

To draw hearts after thee and seal them thine;
Not parent only by that Light was won,
And brethren crouched who had in wrath begun,

E’en heathen pomp abased her at the sign

Of a hid God, and drank the sounds divine,
Till a king heard, and all thou badst was done.
Then was fulfilled nature's dim augury,
That, “Should the Living WORD on earth descend,
"All knees of men in ready awe must bend;'
Lest it might seem, what time the substance came,
Truth lacked a sceptre, when it but laid by
Its beaming front, and bore a willing shame.

CORRESPONDENCE.

The Editor begs to remind his readers that he is not responsible for the opinions

of his Correspondents.

THE FEAST OF ST. MATTHIAS. SIR,—Your correspondent, who is “An OBSERVER OF THE FESTIVALS," (a rare character in these times,) has pointed out an error in Gilbert's Clerical Almanac, for the present year,t in which the feast of St. Matthias is placed on the 25th instead of the 24th of February. I agree with your correspondent so far as to think it highly probable that the last revisors of our Liturgy intended the feast of St. Matthias to be always observed on the 24th ; but still it appears to me that the error of the Almanac consists chiefly in the bold decision of a very doubtful point, and in the recognition of what your correspondent very justly calls a schismatical council, which council, moreover, had nothing to do with the matter. Perhaps the following short sketch of the history of this point, so far at least as our service books are concerned, may prove interesting to some of your readers :

In the first place, it is to be remarked, that unless some express direction interfered, the feast of St. Matthias would, in leap-year,

. Cic. Offic. i. 5.

+ British Magazine for February, p. 207.

naturally fall on what we now call the 25th of February. For the 6th of the Kal. of March is always St. Matthias's-day; but in leapyear the intercalary day being inserted between the 7th and 6th of the Kalends, occasions the 6th to fall on the 25th instead of on the 24th of the month.

And, accordingly we find that it was the uniform practice of the church of England, for centuries before the Reformation, and since that period down to the last review of the Liturgy, to keep this feast on the 25th of February in leap-year.

The rule observed in England, before the Reformation, will be found in the Calendar of the Salisbury Missal, where the following note is inserted at St. Matthias's-day—“Si Bissextus fuerit, quarta die a Cathedra S. Petri fiat Festum S. Matthiæ ; et F. littera bis numeretur.'' Since, therefore, Cathedra S. Petri was observed on the 22nd, the fourth day (inclusive) or the feast of St. Matthias fell on the 25th.

So far then is it clear that conciliar authority had nothing to do with the matter; the point required no legislation—and until days of the month came to be used instead of Kalends, Nones, and Ides, there could be no doubt that the 6 Kal. Mart. was always the feast of St. Matthias, whether that day fell on the 24th, (as in common years,) or on the 25th of February, as in leap-years.

I proceed now to shew that the Reformation introduced no alteration of what had for ages been the practice of the church in this respect; in the two books set forth in the reign of Edward VI. we find the following rubric :

" Thys is also to be noted concernyng the leape yeares, that the xxv daie of Februarie, which in leape year is compted for two daies, shall in those two daies alter neither Psalme nor Lesson; but the same Psalmes and Lessons which be sayed the first daye, shall also serve for the seconde daie."*

There is an evident mistake in this rubric, the probable cause of which will be pointed out hereafter; for it is not the 25th of February, but the 24th, which in leap year is counted for two days; and it is singular enough that this mistake appears not only in every edition of both the prayer-books of Edward VI., but also in the edition printed in Dublin in 1551, for the use of the Irish church.t

The error, however, is more than a mere erratum, and had the effect of avoiding the difficulty about St. Matthias altogether, so that if this rubric ever was observed, the intercalary day was inserted after the 24th, and St. Matthias's-day fell always on the 24th of the month. These anomalies were removed in the prayer-book of Queen

* Booke of C. P., printed by Edw. Whitchurehe, 1552. † A very fine and almost unique copy of this edition, which was the first book ever printed in Ireland, is preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. Its title is—" The Boke of the common praier and admi-nistration of the sacramentes, and other rights and ceremonies of the Churche; af-ter the use of the Churche of England. Dublinie in offi-cina Humfredi Povvelli. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum. Anno Domini. M.D.LI. The lines alternately red and black; the red are here printed in italics. See Cotton's Typogr. Gazeteer, Art. Dublin.

Vol. IX.--April, 1836.

3 E

« PreviousContinue »