Nashotah American Missions
OH LORD, our LORD, how spreads that little seed
Which was, at first, of every seed the least
The birds of air shall scarce its growth outspeed:
Its world-wide branches knit the West and East.
But how it makes my heart of hearts upswell
To see our English ritual planted there,
Where walks his round Nashotah's sentinel,
And breaks its daily service on the air!
Rude as the Saviour's birthplace are its halls,
O'er which, like Bethlehem's star, the cross appears:
And oft the watchman of those outpost walls
In tented fields his wakeful voice uprears.
Oft, on their summer-mission, as they fare,
They seek the wildwood settler's far retreat,
And rear their curtained chapel--while, to prayer,
The forest-dwellers haste with ready feet.
And where, at dawn, the prairie-fox did bark,
Are heard, by night, sweet canticle and chaunt:
Where sung before no choirist but the lark,
Ring out the Church's anthems jubilant!
Then, in the wilderness, is heard the voice
Of one that, like the Baptist, bids repent;
While the rude trappers tremblingly rejoice,
And hearts, long-hardened, soften and relent.
And there the Norway rover, or the Swede,
Kneels with frank Switzer, and the florid Dane:
And England's exile weeps to find the seed
His mother scattered--bound in sheaves again:
While here and there, those mingled groups amid,
The smoking torches shew the desert-child;
The sad Oneida's countenance, half hid,
The bloody Osage--tamed, yet darkly wild.
Flares on the Negro's swarth the self-same blaze:
Nor lacks the scene, from Shem's sad tents, some one;
Nashotah's priests have found, in desert ways,
Rebecca's child and Isaac's homeless son.
Thus, in the outskirt earth, earth's races meet,
For such their Maker's wonderful award,
And, at our Mother's fair unfetter'd feet,
Learn of the Cross, and bow to own its LORD!
Another service greets the morrow's dawn,
And babes are christened, and a prayer-book left:
Then--in a trice--priest, chapel, all are gone:
'Tis something if the woodman feels bereft!
Oh might our Mother's caitiff sons that rend
Her yearning bowels, in the mother-land,
See how she blesses thus the far world's end,
And lift for pardoning grace their guilty hand!
Hear, then, my plaint, ye white-robed youth that raise
By stately Cam the even or morning song,
And when in turn ye wear the Senate's bays,
Avenge--your fathers' shame--our Mother's wrong.
And you, ye clerks, 'neath Oxford's glorious domes
That kneel, full oft, too listless at your prayers.
Think of the rites that bless these forest homes,
And yours, perchance, shall be as blest as theirs.
For not your hymns that Wykeham's roofs rebound,
Not Waynflete's arches wake such deep delight,
As that Nashotah's wilds alike resound
The self-same prayers, and own the same sweet rite!
Oh 'tis the glory of our service blest
Not that alone cathedrals hear it sung,
But that its music cheers the world's wild West,
And swells in rudeness from the woodman's tongue
And oft I think--what joy and strength, in GOD,
Prophetic vision of what thus I sing,
Had given to saintly Ken, or martyred Laud,
When seemed the Church half dead with suffering!
Or even to him, the frail but reverend sire,
Whose palsied palm passed down the lineal grace,
Yes--even to Cranmer, with that palm on fire,
And Moses' radiance on his dying face;
Had he the Australian wilderness foreseen,
Canadian fastness, and the torrid land,
And priests, despising seas that roll between,
By CHRIST commissioned, through his flaming hand!
Rejoice we, then, remembering other times
When hung the Church's life upon a thread,
That GOD hath slain, her tyrants for their crimes,
And raised her up, immortal, from the dead!
At Nashotah, in Wisconsin, a thousand miles from the Atlantic coast, is a religious establishment of unmarried missionaries, who live and labour in the spirit of the primitive day. All that is said of it and them in this ballad is literally true.
The founders of this mission (and among them was the dear friend to whom this book is dedicated) were, in 1840, my fellow-students at Chelsea, and Wisconsin was then a wilderness. It is now (1850) a Christian diocese, and has a bishop, and twenty-one clergy,--the blessed results, in a great degree, of the self-denying labours of the brethren of Nashotah.
The Norway rover. Wisconsin is rapidly filling up with thebetter class of emigrants from Europe; and the itinerant brothers of Nashotah have under their care settlements of Norwegians, Swedes, Irish, Welsh, English, and Oneida Indians. They have also baptized several Jews.
The sad Oneida. Several Oneida Indians are training for Holy Orders at Nashotah; and at the first Diocesan council of Wisconsin, in 1847, there were present several Oneidas, lay delegates. They had walked two hundred miles to be present, and on the last day had accomplished forty-five miles. One of them spoke in debate: probably for the first time (says my friend, the Rev. Dr. Kip) that an American Indian has been heard in the councils of the Church.