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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord: and Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin: thou shalt not die.  2 Samuel xii. 23.

When bitter thoughts, of conscience born, 
With sinners wake at morn, 
When from our restless couch we start 
With fever’d lips and witherd heart, 
Where is the spell to charm those mists away, 
And make new morning in that darksome day? 
One draught of spring’s delicious air, 
One stedfast thought, that God is there. 

These are thy wonders, hourly wrought, 
Thou Lord of time and thought, 
Lifting and lowering souls at will, 
Crowding a world of good or ill 
Into a moment’s vision: even as light 
Mounts o’er a cloudy ridge, and all is bright, 
From west to east one thrilling ray 
Turning a wintry world to May. 

Wouldst thou the pangs of guilt assuage? 
Lo here an open page, 
Where heavenly mercy shines as free, 
Written in balm, sad heart, for thee. 
Never so fast, in silent April shower, 
Flush’d into green the dry and leafless bower 
As Israel’s crowned mourner felt 
The dull hard stone within him melt. 

The absolver saw the mighty grief 
And hasten’d with relief’;— 
"The Lord forgives; thou shalt not die :"— 
‘Twas gently spoke, yet heard on high, 
And all the band of angels, us’d to sing 
In heaven, accordant to his raptur’d string 
Who many a month had turn’d away 
With veiled eyes, nor own’d his lay, 

Now spread their wings, and throng around 
To the glad mournful sound, 
And welcome, with bright open face, 
The broken heart to love’s embrace. 
The rock is smitten, and to future years 
Springs ever fresh the tide of holy tears 
And holy music, whispering peace 
Till time and sin together cease. 

There drink: and when ye are at rest, 
With that free Spirit blest, 
Who to the contrite can dispense 
The princely heart of innocence, 
If ever, floating from faint earthly lyre, 
Was wafted to your soul one high desire, 
By all the trembling hope ye feel, 
Think on the minstrel as ye kneel. 

Think on the shame, that dreadful hour 
When tears shall have no power, 
Should his own lay th’ accuser prove, 
Cold while lie kindled others’ love. 
And let your prayer for charity arise, 
That his own heart may hear his melodies, 
And a true voice to him may cry, 
"Thy God forgives—thou shalt not die. 

Used with permission from the Project Canterbury website.  Transcribed by Mr. Allan R. Wylie, AD 2000.